Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What Does "Online Accounts" Do?

I've been running Oneiric (now 11.10) as my primary desktop since pre-alpha so I thought I had a good handle on it. Well, it turns out that I didn't.

This morning, I stumbled upon Online Accounts in the Me Menu. This appeared to be something that I have been asking for for some time now. Gnome 2 had the About Me dialog, which had the potential to offer all kinds of information about yourself to other applications, meaning that you potentially wouldn't have to enter your account information separately in your mail and chat clients. Unfortunately, security concerns meant that the About Me dialog was never used for that purpose.

Online Accounts came up promisingly. I happily entered my email addresses for Google (the only provider supported at this time), and left Mail, Calendar, Chat, Contacts, and Documents all turned on. I mostly live in the browser these days, but desktop integration sure is nice. I opened Empathy to check that IM was working and was prompted to enter my account details. Hmm. I Tried Thunderbird. No joy.

It turns out that Online Accounts just offers an API. There aren't any applications that actually use that API at this point. Yay! Another half feature from Ubuntu (well, officially it's GNOME's, but Ubuntu shipped it in 11.10). It gets more and more frustrating every year.

How may applications possibly connect in the future?


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