Google’s latest stable channel of Chrome includes developer support for rich browser notifications in web apps. This isn’t the rumored Google Now integration coming to Chrome, but it does bring the browser one step closer to having proactive, useful pop-ups of actionable information. Don’t look for the new feature on Chrome for Mac or Linux though: for now, the notification support is only baked into the Windows and Chrome OS versions.
François Beaufort, newly hired by Google after months of publicly finding and sharing information on the company’s browser efforts, found the notification code in the latest Chromium stable channel. He notes that “we should start to see bubbling some of them (notifications) quite soon now.”
That means developers have yet to add support for these bits in their web apps but can do so now. So far, I’ve only seen a few notifications on the Chromebook Pixel and all of them have been from Google services. Google Voicemails, missed Google Voice calls, incoming Gmail messages and Google+ Hangout invitations have all appeared for me recently.
Why are the notifications important? They bring the Chrome browser closer to a one-stop shop for online needs; more like a true operating system. These notifications are actionable — you can click them to jump into the appropriate web app, for example — but not obtrusive since they’ll disappear in a few seconds on their own if no action is taken. Think of them like notifications on your smartphone. They provide relevant, real-time information but you can choose to ignore any further action until later.