Some links on the internet can be opened by your web browser or, if you use Windows 10, also by certain apps. For example, when you click to play an audio file on a website, you would expect it to be played in your browser, right? However, in Windows 10 you can use the feature called "Apps for websites" to enable, for instance, the Groove Music app to play audio files from the internet, instead of opening them with your browser. Similarly, web links from Facebook can be opened in the Facebook app, links from Twitter can be opened by the Twitter app, and so on. Although this Windows 10 feature is just starting to be noticed by app developers and users alike, here's why it is interesting and useful:.
What is "Apps for websites" in Windows 10?
"Apps for websites" is a feature that lets you use various apps for loading specific content from the internet. Let's take a simple example so that it is easier to understand: let's say you wanted to see a video on YouTube. Normally, to do that, you would open a web browser and visit YouTube. Next, you would search for the video that you want to watch and click/tap Play. Then, the video would play in your web browser.
The idea behind Windows 10's "Apps for websites" is that when you click/tap Play, the web browser launches a dedicated video app such as Movies & TV that loads the YouTube video and plays it. Unfortunately, you cannot do that with YouTube for now, but it is a good example to get the idea for how "Apps for websites" should work.
What is the present state of "Apps for websites"?
For the "Apps for websites" to work with a certain app, that app must support this feature. Which means that the developers must build their apps with this feature in mind. Although it should not be a hard thing to do, it does not look like developers are rushing into it. In reality, at the time we wrote this article, "Apps for websites" is a limited feature and it only works with the Groove Music app and the mediaredirect.microsoft.com website. With the sole exception of Groove Music, not even Microsoft invested effort into making their apps support "Apps for websites."
How do "Apps for websites" work?
By default, in Windows 10 Creators Update, the Groove Music app is associated with the mediaredirect.microsoft.com website. We will use it as an example to see how this feature works. Let's say that you wanted to listen to a music album that is stored on the mediaredirect.microsoft.com website. Use Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, or any other web browser you like and visit that music album's web page. Here's an example: Modern Art of Music: The X-Files by the Synthesizers Images Orchestra. When you visit this web page, Microsoft Edge automatically launches Groove Music and starts playing the music album found on that web page. Google Chrome and other web browsers can do the same thing and open the same Groove Music app, but before doing that, they first ask you if you want to launch Groove Music.
Once you confirm that you want to use an app, in our case Groove Music, Windows 10 launches it and runs the content from that web page in it, in our case, it plays music.
How to associate (or not) apps with websites using the "Apps for websites" feature from Windows 10
To be able to associate apps with websites, you must first open the Settings app. A quick way to do that is to open the Start Menu and then click or tap on the gear icon on its left side.
In Settings, click or tap on the Apps category.
On the left side of the window, click or tap on Apps for websites.
Now, on the right side of the window, you should see all the apps that can open websites on your Windows 10 PC. As you know, you cannot control this list of apps: Windows 10 detects which of your installed apps have this capability. However, what you can control is whether each of these apps is associated with a certain website. For each app, you get a switch that lets you turn On or Off the use of that app with specific websites.
For instance, by default in Windows 10 Creators Update, the Groove Music app is associated with the mediaredirect.microsoft.com website. If you open any content from this website, that content is loaded in Groove Music. If you do not want that, and you would rather open that content in your web browser, you can disable the association between Groove Music and the mediaredirect.microsoft.com website. Simply turn Off the switch for it, in the "Apps for websites" section from the Settings app.
That is it!
Now you know what Microsoft intended when they developed this feature for Windows 10. In theory, it is a good feature that should make users' lives easier. However, it looks like developers are not rushing into building this feature into their apps. Not even Microsoft seems to spend too much effort on including this feature into their default Windows 10 apps. We were expecting to see this work at least for the Movie & TV app, but unfortunately, that is not the case. What do you think about "Apps for websites"? Would you like to see more apps having this capability? Or do you think it is a feature doomed to disappear because of developers' neglect?