Looks like Google is off doing their own thing in a very interesting space – application integration with Web Intents. Web Intents are not new and have been a primary piece of the Android operating system; it will be interesting to have this concept in a web application. You can read some healthy discussion over on the Open Social forum and also check out this presentation about Web Intents.
On the surface it looks like they are tackling some of the embedded experience stuff but in the details it looks almost identical to the declarative actions piece of the up and coming Open Social 2.0 specification. There is however a primary difference; the declarative actions in Open Social allow an application to expose its actions and selection to the container – which can then be visualized with a toolbar, context menu, etc. Web Intents allow a service definition and discovery framework for actions. If anything, I can see these two things working together very nicely.
Imagine a declarative action in Open Social 2.0 keying off of the selection and the base execution would be to “open” or “view” that selection. If the selection has a type associated with it then the Web Intents would simply take over and launch the appropriate application. Not so different then what happens today in Windows when you double click a file in Windows Explorer.
If Google is really pushing for this then I think the Open Social guys might want to consider pulling this in to 2.0 now or people may just use Web Intents in strange ways to achieve things like declarative actions. For instance, provide a toolbar that enables and disables actions based on selection – if the selection has a registered intent then enable the button or menu.