Google preps new web platform APIs

is developing several designed to enhance the web platform, including for automatically launching web apps and opening files. These APIs should eventually find support in all leading browsers.

A declarative link capturing API, due shortly, will enable an installed web app to launch automatically when a user clicks on an appropriate link. The API could prevent multiple instances of the same app from opening, so users do not have to deal with perhaps 10 instances of the same web app, said Ben Galbraith, of Google’s Chrome team, during a May 18 presentation on the web platform.

Other new web platform in the works at Google include:

  • A file handling API to allow web apps to be registered as file type handlers, enabling users to open files directly in a web app from OS file browsers. An experimental release of this API is planned for later this year.
  • A prerendering API, also planned for later in 2021, for developers to experiment with prerendering on same-site preloading. Prerendering is a technique for loading all of a webpage’s resources, including rendering the DOM, before the user clicks on the page’s link, for instant display. Prerendering is hard to get right, with possible side effects including leaking some user information if done across sites, Galbraith said. But if done properly, prerendering provides a powerful, instant click-through experience for the user. New approaches to prerendering are being developed that are private and safe.
  • Document transition APIs, soon to be available as Chrome origin trial experiments, will support graphical transitions between elements, to enable a user to perceive a seamless experience when moving between states of a web app.
  • A WebGPU API to improve graphics performance on the web. Google is working with the graphics and web communities on WebGPU, which is still experimental.
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