Since upgrading my iPhone to the 2.0 software, I’ve dived into Apple’s app store and I’ve been making a point of trying out apps from across the store but focusing on content creation tools (such as the excellent WordPress app which I’m using to write this post). At the same time, I’ve continued to make use of all the great iphone webapps and mobile Web sites I’ve come to know and love. Increasingly, across many platforms (not just iPhone) application developers and content providers will  face this choice: to build a webapp or to build a native app. There are advantages to both approaches, and some work that’s just getting started that I believe will significantly change the face of mobile development over the next 2 years. The rush of content and application developers to develop iPhone apps has been impressive and somewhat predictable. The app store is the next big thing. Google, Microsoft and others are now jumping on the bandwagon (probably much to the dismay of the folks at Handango who can rightly claim they’ve been doing an app store since before app stores were cool). Many of the apps in the Apple app store are really good and could not (currently) be written as web apps because they either take advantage of device capabilities (such a location) or because they need direct access to graphics or sound capabilities (3D gaming) not available to the browser engine. However – discounting this need to access the platform functions, there’s nothing about, say, the iPhone Facebook …

Mobile Web Apps will Beat Native Apps Read more »

Apart from MobEA V (and meeting Dick Hardt — my quote: “Hey. You’re famous!”), the other highlight of the event for me was the panel I got to chair on Mobile Ajax. Now — this is an interesting topic, and we had some great speakers on the panel (the inset photo is Arun from AOL being his usual irreverent self) with a lot of interesting things to say. We also had Mark Birbeck from x-port, Rhys Lewis from Volantis, and Song Huang from SoonR. The panel kind of explored two alternative visions of how Web Apps will be built and deployed — declaratively (such as with xForms) or (as they are now) through script and currently deployed Web standards. This same conversation is playing itself out in the regular Web world, but one twist that Mobile adds is the issue of processing power and battery life on the devices themselves. If you want to create a Web application that runs on the phone using Ajax, that will eat up your battery pretty quickly. Now that may just be an issue of optimization of the underlying engine, but the fact remains (especially for applications that you want to sit there and poll periodically like … say … widgets that sit on your phone’s screen and provide glance-able information) it’s just not practical to do it in Ajax right now. Song from SoonR gave a great opening presentation and demo of that product which really opened peoples’ eyes to the possibilities of Ajax on the mobile device – …

More WWW2007 Stuff: Mobile Ajax Read more »

On Sunday I head off to Banff, Canada for the WWW2007 conference. This is going to be one busy week — I’m attending and giving a “lightning talk” at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting, then co-chairing a workshop on the role of the Mobile Web in the developing world with Rittwik Jana from AT&T research, then speaking at the conference itself on the progress and future of the Mobile Web Best Practices working group and finally chairing a panel on Mobile Ajax before heading back home. In between all this, I’ll be trying to soak in some of the raw innovation and excitement at the WWW conference. The thing about WWW is that it’s not a glitzy place where you go to mix with rockstars and digerati. It’s where academia and industry meet to hash out the future of Web technologies. I am really looking forward to it.