These past few days, there has been a topic in the WHATWG about somehow making web apps run in the background, so we can always have them on — the way you have your email always on.
While searching around for an answer, I realized I’ve basically been doing that very thing for a number of days: I have a web-page saved as an application using Google Chrome.
When you use Chrome’s “Create application shortcut…” option, you’re left with a shortcut that tries to look like it’s for an application. When you open it, you get a very minimal UI: A favicon (that can be pressed for options), the title, and the caption buttons. The rest of the window is there for the application.
This is basically just a redesigned tab. You can select an option to turn it back into a tab, and you can drag it back into the browser. But it remembers its size and position when you close it, and you can use Google Gears with some applications to store data on your system.
I’ve been using the Chrome applications with Google Reader. I know there are some feed readers that actually are applications, but I think Chrome is my favourite application. The width limit isn’t stupid like it is in TweetDeck, and the UI isn’t cludgy like it is in the Windows Live collection.
Google Reader opens up in a thin, tall window on the right side of my screen. In the title bar is the text, “Google Reader,” as well as the number of new feeds.
It checks for new feeds every couple of minutes, and I just need to look at the Taskbar button to see how many.
There are only two things wrong with this setup:
1) I have to look for it, which is fine enough for my reader, but wouldn’t be good for something like an IM client or email. It needs notification.
2) I have this big button sitting in the Taskbar when I’m trying to search through for folders I have open. I’d love if I could minimize it to the notification area, and it could notify me when it found new things.
As it stands, I would love for Google Reader to play a sound when it found something new. It could do that.
I might try to make some sort of web app, soon, that works well with the Chrome application shortcuts.