In the last few days, Flathub has taken several important steps to become one of the best options for installing applications for Linux users. They are going to break away from GNOME and become their own project, and all these changes will also be reflected in how things are presented to us. For example, the icon will be different, and They are already preparing a website that is currently in beta phase. It was when I was taking a tour of the future version that I realized that there was a "large" (see the quotes) amount of web applications converted into desktop applications.
Why are there so many web apps made for Linux? The truth is that I do not have a sure answer, but the header capture can help us to get an idea: there is software that simply is not for Linux, but we can access the web service. Whatsapp is the best example to understand this: what is not understood is why there is no native app for Linux, but we do see that there are up to 5 different versions in Flathub, to which are added Franz and Tangram, which are applications for managing various web applications. And what do they offer? Well, the four in green are basically the same WhatsApp web that WhatsApp Inc. offers, while Youp is the same, but with a real full screen mode, not partial.
Desktop web apps separate content
In Snapcraft we also find software like this. I seem to remember that before there was a Microsoft Office "desktop" application, which was actually the web version made app. Still existing Apple Music, and they are that, the same website but made desktop app. Does all this make sense? In my opinion, yes and no.
There are many users who don't want to use flatpak or snap packages, which is the format many of these apps appear in, so using such a package just for an app that can run in the browser doesn't seem to do much good. sense. But it does. Although the browser that we use by default allows us to install the applications or create shortcuts that run independently of the browser, what they are actually doing is opening a new window with no URL field and no tabs, but it's the same browser.
We have put as one of the examples an application to listen to music. If we create a Chrome/Brave/Vivaldi shortcut and silence the current music "application", it will also silence the rest of the windows and tabs of the browser that the app has installed for us. This is probably not what we want, and where it makes a bit of sense to have desktop apps made from a web page, use Electron or any other technology.
Also, if we use WhatsApp web, the native notifications of a Linux desktop don't always know where to take us when we click on them. Sometimes the logo of the service is not even visible, showing us the logo of the browser. Of course, the name of the tab is usually shown, and the message received too.
If possible, better real applications
Now if possible it is always better that they create real applications. Among the examples we can mention was Apple Music Electron, and that application evolved into Cider, an example of things well done. Its developers and collaborators, which are many, created an Apple Music app that far exceeds iTunes, which is currently still the official option for Windows. And the best thing is that it also works on Linux, which shows that sometimes, when an API is available, you can do a lot and very well.
The bad thing is something well known, and it is that Linux users are not taken care of as much as those of Windows, and there are not many cases like Cider's. The good thing is that there is a lot of open source software that allows us to do everything, or almost, because if we could do everything, there would not be so many projects that bring web applications to the Linux desktop. As long as it is to offer alternatives, and do not abandon the project, they are welcome.
2 comments, leave yours
Very good post, you are really right about the web pages that are converted to "apps" since this is the same browser and if I have another browser window open it can even slow down the PC a bit, it is best to create apps really.
I hope they make more real applications that are integrated into the system and can be downloaded in .DEB format.