Web Apps as First Class Citizens

Dominique Hazaël-Massieux Paper 1 Offline Web Applications Workshop

Author: Dominique Hazaël-Massieux (W3C)

Developments in the Web platform make Web applications credible alternative to “native” applications in a growing number of cases.

But the user experience of these Web applications, particularly on mobile, remain less integrated than what native application provide.

Indeed, Web applications remain hidden under the browser application in most environments:

Another limitation to which privacy-sensitive users are confronted with Web Apps is the lack of isolation between Web Apps and traditional Web browsing.

Indeed, using a “native” application means that the user shares no context between that application and its browser usage. For instance, a user logged in within a social network native app rightfully assumes that her browsing on sites that would make use of cookies from that social network (e.g. for buttons) won't be impacted by her being logged in.

With Web applications, such an isolation doesn’t exist, and the user has either to always take care of logging out of social networks to avoid being tracked during her regular browsing activities, or use different browsers (or different browsers profiles). None of these solutions are particularly user-friendly.

To cater for this, it would be useful if browsers provided a mode for Web applications which would isolate their cookies from the rest of the browsing activity. Ideally, that isolation wouldn't extend to preventing the user from accessing her recorded passwords, history, bookmarks, etc. as browser profiles or browser private modes currently do.

Both set of problems point to the need for Web applications to get more autonomy from the browser in which they’re running, bit without losing the benefits of being integrated into the user’s browser profile.

MobiWebApp logoThis paper was developed with funding from the MobiWebApp project, funded by the European Union through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2010-2012) under grant agreement n°257800 - Mobile Web Applications (MobiWebApp)