Save URL and Context as a Win10 Start Menu Tile

  • This facility is already present in Chrome and Yandex. It is extremely handy. I will give some examples.

    Suppose you have an id where you keep a business contact list, or a separate calendar of school events. Then you want start up the google app in the browser, and swap to the correct identity. In the case of going to a contact list, its even more annoying, because you have to start the browser, go to gmail, swap to the right identity, then click a few times to get from gmail to the contacts list (there is no direct shortcut).

    If you use Chrome browser or Yandex, you can get the thing you want, then save it to desktop, then pin to Win10 start menu, and you effectively have created your own mini-app to give you just the calendar or contacts list you want. Please note: this is not saving the URL to the desktop: every browser lets you do that. This is saving an invocation string for the application, to the desktop, with specific parameters (the current URL plus some cookie values).

    So you can use this method to create a new mini-app for your own special needs, based on any URL you like! Its very intuitive and these shortcuts, look very nice when saved to your Win10 layout of startmenu icons.

    A similar process can be applied in Chrome and Yandex on MacOS. If you're a Mac aficionado and this is ringing a few bells, well that's because the Fluid app does exactly this for you as well. With Fluid, you can take any URL and create an app out of it.

    What's going on here is you are bridging the gap between mobile (Android or iOS) and desktop (Win10 or MacOS). Companies on the mobile operating system platforms like to serve you their site as an app, and that's a way of working with a specificity and lack of distraction that we've all grown to know and love. But for a desktop platform like Win10 or MacOS, a very few companies have created desktop equivalents of their mobile app, because its too much work to go back and rewrite all those websites (like as an app. So instead they just leave you to go to their website in your browser. You don't have the comfort and convenience and nice feeling of a stand-alone app like which only exists on the Android and iOS platforms.

    If you give the user this facility, he can replicate the feeling and convenience of his mobile device, on his Win10 or MacOS desktop. Once you try this, you will never look back!

  • @comfunc There are several ergonomic aspects to this process that aren't obvious at first blush.

    One issue is app/website window size and aspect ratio. For example, if you are making a calendar app (or displaying a webpage of Google Calendar), the best thing is a square shaped window, of a smallish size. The square shape is for Month view, obviously, and the smaller size is because it doesn't hold that much data (unlike a document or a spreadsheet), and its more convenient if you can say, look at the email request for a meeting, whilst at the same time examining your calendar.

    That's one of the reasons mobile platform apps are so cute: they can be made just the right size and shape for the job you're doing with them.

    Another example is Whatsapp. If you want to type messages on your laptop using Whatsapp Web, you don't want to have a massive browser window open just for that one little job, which is probably going on concurrently with other, more heavy duty work, on the same laptop. So you want to create, on the laptop, your own version of Whatsapp web, in its own window, with a remembered size and shape commensurate with its role.

    A 2nd issue is of consistency and workflow management. For example, Fastmail is a great mail provider, with their own mobile app for Android and iOS, but they don't have a Win10 or MacOS app. This means that you have to structure your workflow differently in the latter environments - you'll have to use a browser window, and possibly get your Fastmail work mixed up with a whole load of other crap you've got going on in that browser.

    A 3rd issue, I touched on before, is of identity management. Suppose you are at work and you use Firefox for work browsing and Gmail for work email. But suppose you also want to organise a group football trip in your lunchbreak. If you browse to gmail, it will pick up your work identity. Sure, you can swap, but you may accidentally send a private email from your work identity, if you forget. Then you want to buy your group train tickets. If you go to it will automatically use your work identity if you've already logged in there to buy a work ticket. You can get around this issue problem by using one browser for work stuff and another browser for private stuff. But its even better if you have the ability to encapsulate a particular function in a browser session with an encoded URL. In that case, you can create a desktop app/tile called 'PrivateMail', or 'FootballTrips', and by clicking on that you know for sure you are going to be in the right place, with the right identity.

    Anyway, so this suggestion may seem a bit abstract and inconsequential, but actually its ramifications are very great.


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