Currently (at time of writing) there are 4 main desktop platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS) and 6 main mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, Symbian, WebOS). In the future there is going to be even more platforms. Smart TVs will become mainstream, even the long awaited smart fridges.
Each of these platforms support applications of one type or another.
The current feeling, by many, certainly not all, and not sure if even most. Is that there has recently been a flocking to the native applications.
Why is this?
“You get a better experience with native applications”
I think I might be alone in this, but I hate this kind of argument. A ‘better’ experience depends on what you are actually wanting to experience. If you want something that you can access from any device anywhere in the world. Then the web provides an infinitely better experience.
You can put in extra functionality in a native application
Camera, Address Book, App purchases etc. These are either not possible via the browser or just not ‘easy’ to implement.
Now let’s take it back a few years ago. We had various desktop platforms. Mobile platforms weren’t really mainstream. The web was a wonderful place. Us makers, developers, software craftsman could make something that everyone with an internet browser could use. That was all you needed. That one application, the browser. It didn’t matter what desktop platform you were using. The web was our new platform.
So why have we gone back to the past?
My answer is simple. Mobile browser vendors.
They have only recently implemented hardware acceleration into the browsers. That isn’t necessarily their fault. Let’s remember that the standards have only recently been formalised.
But more importantly, they don’t currently implement any of the useful native features.
Many of you will have heard of PhoneGap. PhoneGap is basically a browser wrapper adding these extra bits of native functionality into applications built using web technologies.
PhoneGap in my opinion is an excellent interim solution, but it won’t be long until browser vendors start implementing native functionality. The problem we have is again the standards issue.
W3C have a draft proposal for their Device APIs
Mozilla are creating their own implementation, WebAPIs. Which is set to be completed within the next 6 months.
As long as you have a good browser, your device won’t become a brick,
I don’t write for devices. I write for people.
I guess what I am trying to say, is let’s not have the same discussions we were having back when the web became the platform the first time round.