Google is making a seemingly small but very important change in Chrome, the bookmark star button is getting replaced. The button has been around since Chrome was introduced and it's one of the most common buttons in all browsers.
Google plans to replace the button with a new + menu that enables users to both bookmark the page but also share it with their friends. It further offers an option to send the page to your mobile device if you have one registered.
At a glance, this looks like yet another attempt by Google to shoehorn Google+ into one of its products.
But it's not that, at least not explicitly, the new share feature is actually based on web intents, a web technology Google and others have been working on for quite a while now.
Web intents are designed to make it easier for web apps to declare actions they can handle.
For example, a photo sharing app could simply "ask" the browser if any photo editors are registered and "outsource" that operation rather than having to build an editing feature itself or integrate an existing API.
With web intents, apps don't have to know anything about each other and can still work together. The sharing feature is a simple example.
Users will be able to install apps from the Chrome Store that handles web intents and then share a page via any app they prefer.
A Google+ app may come pre-installed with Chrome, but users could add Facebook, Flickr, Gmail and whatever else and share a link from the same button in Chrome.
There's already a solid list of apps that support web intents, at least as far as sharing is concerned, in the Web App Store. Granted, most of those apps are built by the Web Intents developers themselves.
But the technology is on track to be built into Chrome 23 and enabled by default. Mozilla is working on adding it to Firefox. Expect it to really take off when at least one major browser supports it, partially because it's so easy to implement and the functionality is so obviously needed.