How to Install and Use Ubuntu’s New Web Apps Feature

image

Install Ubuntu’s new web app feature – included by default in the upcoming Ubuntu 12.10 – to see unread email in your messaging menu, control music playing on websites from the sound menu, and more.

This feature makes web apps first-class citizens of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop. The preview release supports over 30 websites, including Gmail, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Angry Birds.

Installing Web Apps Integration

To install this feature in Ubuntu 12.04, launch a terminal and run the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webapps/preview
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-webapps-preview

Log out and log back in to enable the feature in Ubuntu’s Unity desktop after installing it.

image

Using Web Apps Integration

Currently, web apps integration only functions with Chromium or Mozilla Firefox. With the feature installed, visit a supported website in one of these browsers and you’ll see an integration prompt.

image

After you agree, the web app will be integrated with your Ubuntu desktop. Each web app will appear in your Dash, so you can easily search for open them like desktop apps. You can also pin them to your launcher.

image

Some web apps will appear in your messaging menu and display a count of unread emails, tweets, or other messages.

image

Music websites like Grooveshark and Pandora will appear in your sound menu, so you can control them without switching to a browser window.

image

Web apps can display notifications – for example, the BBC news web app displays updated news with desktop notifications.

image

Web apps are also integrated with Ubuntu’s HUD – you can press Alt and start typing to quickly activate and search their menu items, just as you can with desktop applications.

Supported Websites

Here’s a list of currently supported websites. Visit any of the websites to see an integration prompt.

Mail

  • Gmail
  • Yahoo! Mail
  • Hotmail (Windows Live Mail)
  • Yandex Mail
  • QQ Mail
  • Mail.ru

Social Networks

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • VK

Music & Videos

  • Groovershark
  • Pandora
  • Hulu
  • YouTube
  • Last.fm
  • Libre.fm
  • Yandex Music

Games

  • Angry Birds (chrome.angrybirds.com)
  • Cut the Rope
  • Lord of Ultima
  • Command and Conquer: Tiberium Alliances

News

  • Reddit
  • Google Reader
  • BBC News
  • CNN News
  • Google News
  • Yahoo! News
  • Yandex News

Other

  • Google Docs
  • Google Calendar
  • Amazon Cloud Reader
  • Amazon
  • WordPress.com
  • Launchpad
  • Subway IRC

Thanks to OMG! Ubuntu! for compiling a lot of this information, particularly the list of supported websites!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Twitter.