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Web Apps Discovery in context

From: Dominique Hazael-Massieux <dom@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 09:38:06 +0200
Message-ID: <1366097886.3075.15.camel@cumulustier>
To: public-closingthegap@w3.org
We discussed in an earlier thread the stakes behind making Web apps more
searchable:
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-closingthegap/2013Mar/0007.html

A related but different topic is how to make Web apps easy to discover
and access from within the user context.

If a retail store offers its customers a Web app (taking advantage of
the fact they don't need to be installed), how can it make it easy for
them to get to that Web app?

The existing mechanisms have all drawbacks:
* URLs are hard and slow to type on mobile
* QR codes often require dedicated software, and are probably too
cumbersome to make the pain of using the Web app negligible
* NFC tags require dedicated hardware and software, and still require
the potential user to move close to the tag

To enable what Scott calls "just-in-time interactions" [1], I think
making the cost of discovering and accessing Web apps as low as possible
would help service providers benefit from this fairly unique
characteristic of Web apps.

A couple of ideas on what could help make context-relevant Web apps
discovery seamless:
* network-based detection: in our retail store example, let's imagine
the user uses the free WIFI network provided by the store; that network
advertises the Web apps (e.g. via Zerconf/bonjour), and the browser
offers the user a special view of local services;
[ https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/dap/raw-file/tip/discovery-api/Overview.html is
exploring how to expose network services to Web apps more generally ]

* location-based detection: if Web apps are made easier to search, and
if that search is able to detect and rate the specific value of a given
Web app for a given location, browsers could expose to the user what Web
apps are particularly relevant to her location; one of the usual
challenges is obviously to avoid spammy results

I'm interested to hear thoughts on the overall importance of this topic,
and ideas on how to make progress on it.

Thanks!

Dom

1. http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/mobile-apps-must-die.html
Received on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 07:38:26 UTC

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