Keyboardr: An App Launcher for the Web

By Josh Catone
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You’ve heard it before: the web is an operating system. As more and more applications move into the cloud, the web is becoming the platform for the majority of our computing. But getting to those web applications and managing them is still cumbersome. So perhaps, what the web needs is a launcher. Over the weekend, 21-year-old German software developer Julius Eckert debuted a site that does just that at

For now, Keyboardr looks like just yet another meta search engine — you type in a keyword and instantly get back results from Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube on a single page. You can navigate around those results with just your keyboard’s arrow keys, hence the name of the site. In its current form, Keyboardr rather ho-hum.

But what is exciting are the plans that Eckert has for Keyboardr. In the future Keyboardr will begin to act like a launcher for web services, including Twitter, FriendFeed, Google Docs, Flickr, and Delicious. Users will be able to essentially launch those web applications in a new window or tab with just a couple of keystrokes. Ajaxian compares it to the brilliant Mac launcher application Quicksilver — which makes sense, given that Eckert is a known Mac fan. It seems likely that he drew inspiration from Quicksilver.

Eckert plans to eventually open up Keyboardr via API so that developers are able to build in support for all sorts of web services. In the demo video (embedded at the end of this post), Eckert gives a demonstration of the Friendfeed launcher running in a production version of the application that isn’t yet available to the public.

Keyboardr is a great idea, but we’d love to see it as a browser extension or an Adobe AIR application, rather than just a web app. Being able to launch web applications with a couple of key strokes sounds great, but it’s still sort of clumsy to have to navigate to a web page to do it — that actually adds a step to the process of opening a web application, rather than takes one away.

Yes, you can set as your browser homepage, but during the course of an average day, how often are you actually at your set homepage? As a Firefox extension or an AIR app, Keyboardr could sit in the background and serve up its quick launching goodness no matter where you are.

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  • Julius Eckert

    Yeah there is inspiration from Quicksilver :) . The project started with which was a 1-to-1 QS clone.

    We have been thinking alot about whether to create an extension or a homepage.
    Our argument is the following. when you are on your own machine, there are comfortable ways to access the homepage (I always have keyboardr in my first firefox-tab, when I need it, I press ctrl+1), but when you are on another machine its uncomfortable to install an extension.

    Thanks for the interest and have a nice day.

  • Steven

    An app launcher? You mean like the bookmarks in my browser? Someone built another meta browser? So that’s what IT people do instead of working.

  • @Steven … Not really, that would be like saying Enso Launcher (the Windows equivalent of Quicksilver) is the same as the Windows Start menu. A lot of people would disagree with that assessment.

  • Ned Collyer

    The results of the quick launch single words (hackernews, maps, etc) are the same as if you typed those words directly into the Firefox address bar.

    The “awesomebar” really is awesome ;)

    With “keyword for this search” functionality in firefox, and the awesome bar – I wonder if there is a place for in the future.

    I do like the future plans for integration with various feeds and services, but I fail to see the use of meta search given the technology available in firefox.

    I do not wish to detract from the delight achieved by building one of these meta browsers – I just question its use until the feed/services stuff matures.

  • ujal

    It is not really a launcher, but it is so fast it replaces the feeling of searching with the feeling of launching.

  • fail