The iPhone's Biggest Innovation... Mobile Apps

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Antoine Wright, Jun 12, 2007.

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  1. Antoine Wright

    Antoine Wright Neighborhood Mobilist Super Moderator

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    At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, Steve Jobs pulled out some interesting information about the upcoming iPhone. Probably the most important and groundbreaking revelation is that software written for this smartphone will have to be written as browser-based applications that run within the Safari browser.

    Simply put, this means that the iPhone is ushering in web applications as the standard means for getting applications onto mobile devices.

    What Does This Mean?

    Safari is a web browser. Much like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, and a host of others, it is a means to access information on the Internet (and intranets) through a largely common platform, and with simple to use development tools like (x)HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX, and many others.

    By making it so that applications have to use a web browser to be installed on the device, Apple is clearly taking the position that people will want to have some level of connectivity to information that is online.

    And, unlike third party applications on other platforms, most of which are not run through a browser, these applications will have the ability to not only run on the iPhone, but any computer that has a suitable web browser.

    Good for Developers

    For developers, this simplifies a great deal of writing applications for a new platform. The mobile landscape has the Garnet OS, Windows Mobile (at least two versions), Symbian (two versions there too), and various flavors of Linux, not to mention the UMPC devices running other forms of Linux and Windows XP or Vista. Trying to cover all of these with a single application is beyond most developers.

    By moving the application away from the operating system and to the browser, platforms such as Adobe's Apollo, Microsoft's Silverlight, and Google's web applications suite can be leveraged for more than just a spot reference.

    True, developer will have to host parts of their application on their servers, and Safari will have to offer some type of offline ability (such as Google Gears or Firefox 3's Offline Mode) so that users do not lose data when they are not connected to a server. But this does make application development a lot more streamlined.

    Good for Users

    For users this means that you could soon get away from using platform-specific applications and rely more on browser-based ones.

    One possibility that Apple could be looking at is taking its products iLife, iPhoto, and others and making them browser-based applications for desktop/laptops. That would mean that you would be able to log in to those apps via the iPhone and utilize all or some abbreviated form of the application for the smaller mobile device.

    If written right, it could become easier for applications to share information among themselves, and for users to make connections between different bits of information.

    Ahead of Its Time

    When the iPhone was introduced, Steve Jobs stated that it was five years ahead of any other phone out there. By pressing the mobile apps via the web browser button, it might not be five years out, but are certainly well out and ahead of other manufacturers and carriers

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2015
  2. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    What I find even more interesting is that Apple is taking the position that the primary purpose of a smartphone is to access information that is online.

    I'm not sure that this is true, but it's a good place to start a discussion.
     
  3. Curious Cat

    Curious Cat Mobile Deity Super Moderator

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    Just because an application is based on the web browser and/or it's programming language, I don't see why that automatically means that it has to access the Internet to be used after it has been installed. Does it?
     
  4. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Mobile Evangelist

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    Everyone is shifting towards web-based apps. It's only that for example Palm's marketing machine doesn't cut it, so that the message that the Foleo's Opera browser features full Java, Flash and Ajax-support was lost in the big *groan* that everyone was producing during Hawkins' talk. ;)

    So Apple is not the only one innovating here. Foleo's existence might very well also depend on the development of web apps in general. Even if the hardware was ready for it, the Foleo could never have been introduced 5 years ago, because the web wasn't ready for it.
     
  5. sunoke

    sunoke Newbie

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    The use of AJAX implies that there is a connection between a client and a server. I don't know if the iPhone will be the server but i doubt it.
     
  6. Eugenia

    Eugenia Mobile web developer

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  7. timepilot84

    timepilot84 Handheld Junkie

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    If someone can show me a passable version of Bejeweled that would run on an iPhone (no cheating and using Silverlight, it's not available on iPhone, and AFAIK there is no comparable technology on the iPhone, not even Flash) and I'll get behind this 100%.

    As a current user of AT&T's EDGE network, I'm sorely unimpressed with the notion that the iPhone web browser is the key. You'd think that if they intended this device to be connected, they'd have opted for UMTS out of the gate. I call BS.
     
  8. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Mobile Evangelist

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    Not to mention that the iPhone is *severely* handicapped when having to use it one-handedly. Which, actually, happens quite a lot during normal, practical use. Walking over the street with iPhone in one hand, and a latte in the other, or a bag, or a book... how the heck are you supposed to operate the Safari browser for example with one hand?

    The whole idea is that you use your other hand to 'pinch' and zoom in and out of the webpage to make it readable, you can't pinch with only the thumb of the hand in which you are holding the iPhone!

    So I seriously wonder what other navigational issues these webapplications in Apple's Safari will face. :)
     
  9. Konrad Pierce

    Konrad Pierce Village Idiot 2.0

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    Does this approach by Apple translate into purchasing software, then not actually having the capability of running it unless you're online? This seems to be a very bad thing to me ... it could ultimately turn into you leasing a subscription on "your" software instead of just owning it outright. True, it would constantly be the most recent, updated, cool version released ... but without internet access it might "expire" ... leaving you without a word processor, mp3 player, or cool Today plug-in. Am I wrong?
     
  10. adamz

    adamz Mobile Evangelist

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    I totally agree. I'm having a hard time taking this article seriously too.
    Take a look at this video of Apple showing off one of these "web apps":
    http://www.infoworld.com/archives/videoTemplate.jsp?Id=1190&type=News&tag=Mobile Tech

    It's just a web page designed to look like the iPhone contacts page! Seriously pushing the limits of the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field. These web apps don't get installed on the iPhone... they're just web sites. They can't access your contacts database, they can't modify the interface, they can't add system-wide features like... a better input method (FITALY, Caligrapher?), voice recognition, GPS navigation, attachment viewers, games... none of that. Just web pages!

    The only integration is that you can create hyperlinks for phone numbers, emails, and addresses.
     
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