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Ubuntu WebApps is a new feature that will be integrated with Ubuntu by default, starting with Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal. This new technology allows websites such as Gmail, Grooveshark, Last.fm, Facebook, Google Docs and many others to be tightly integrated with the desktop (Unity): they will support HUD, you'll receive desktop notifications, quicklists, ALT-TAB support and they will integrate with the messaging menu:

Examples of what the new WebApps technology can do:
  • Control Grooveshark from the Ubuntu Sound Menu
  • See how many unread emails you have in your Gmail or Yahoo Mail inbox from the Ubuntu Messaging Menu
  • Get native desktop notifications for Facebook, Gmail, Google+

ubuntu webapps

ubuntu webapps

Some services like Facebook, Google (including Docs, Gmail, Google+, Picasa and YouTube), Flickr, Twitter, Foursquare and Identi.ca will be directly integrated into Online Accounts, available in the Ubuntu Control Center (System Settings):

ubuntu webapps

Here's a video demoing the new Web Apps integration in Ubuntu:

(direct video link)

Supported websites and browsers

Among the supported websites are Yahoo Mail, Google services like Gmail, Google Calendar, News, Google Plus, Reader, YouTube, Launchpad, Facebook, Twitter, Grooveshark, Last.fm and others. A complete list of supported websites can be found here. The community will be able to add support for more websites - the API documentation can be found HERE.

At the moment, only Firefox and Chromium browsers are supported. Google Chrome isn't supported because the PPA installs a custom Chromium build and Google Chrome can't be uploaded to a PPA due to its license.

Install Ubuntu WebApps Technology In Ubuntu 12.10 or 12.04

This technology will be available in Ubuntu 12.10 by default, but a preview release is already available in a PPA for Ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04, so you can already give it a try. But since this is a preview release, you'll probably find bugs so make sure you know what you're doing!

Update: for Ubuntu 12.10, the WebApps are already available in the official repositories. See the following post for more info and installation instructions: Unity WebApps Available In The Ubuntu 12.10 Official Repositories

To add the PPA and install the WebApps feature, use the commands below:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webapps/preview
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install unity-webapps-preview

Important: the WebApps feature won't work properly if you're using a PPA in Ubuntu 12.04 that installs a newer Unity version, such as the Unity Revamped PPA. To be able to make full use of the new WebApps Ubuntu feature, you need to purge that PPA firstly.

Then log out, log back in and visit one of the supported websites using Firefox or Chromium and a popup should be displayed, asking if you want to integrate that website with Ubuntu:

webapps firefox

webapps chromium

click "Integrate" for Firefox or "Yes" for Chromium and you're ready to go. If you don't want a website to integrate with the desktop, simply don't click the Integrate/Yes button for that website.

In Firefox, the confirmation popup may disappear before you click "Integrate" (I've had some issues with this). If that happens, refresh the page and the popup should be displayed again.

Note: the PPA also installs some new lenses: Google Docs lens, Photo lens (with a Flickr scope).

Removing Ubuntu WebApps feature

If you want to remove the Ubuntu WebApps feature, use the commands below:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:webapps/preview
sudo apt-get remove gnome-control-center-signon signond signon-keyring-extension signon-plugin-oauth2 signon-ui libunity-webapps-chromium unity-chromium-extension unity-lens-gdocs unity-lens-photo unity-scope-flickr xul-ext-webaccounts xul-ext-unity xul-ext-websites-integration

Then log out and log back in.