BDConf: James Pearce presents This Web Goes to 11

In This Web Goes to 11, James Pearce (@jamespearce) demonstrates how device and network APIs can take the mobile web to a whole new dimension. The future looks awesome.

The Current Mobile Web World

  • The web was bound to escape from the desktop and was meant to be carried with us wherever we went.
  • Native apps have access to all the device APIs and as a result can create more contextually-aware experiences.
  • Look beyond the piece of glass and think of the human on the other end of the device.
  • The mobile web is trapped in a sandbox called the browser and we’re forced to adapt to browser’s constraints.
  • Mobile web is in a pretty sad state with regards to capabilities. “I’m sure there are plenty of Facebook mobile web users that are confused why there isn’t an ‘upload photo’ button.”
  • It’s not that native solutions will go away, but the web needs the power to at least be competitive with native solutions.
  • WAP sites years ago had access to device APIs that sadly aren’t available in modern mobile browsers

Device APIs

  • Device API Working Group, a good rundown of what we can hope to expect from the mobile web soon.
  • Geolocation is one of the best supported device APIs out of everything.
  • <input type=file> currently doesn’t work on iOS, but is supported on Android 2.3+.
  • getUserMedia currently is only supported in Opera Mobile. James demoed a simple photo-taking app he made with 100 lines of code. Related: check out Patrick Lauke’s browser-based QR code reader demo which uses getUserMedia.
  • Messaging API allows you to send text messages from mobile browsers.
  • Mobile devices are bristling with sensors, unfortunately the mobile web currently doesn’t have access to many of them.
  • Mozilla WebAPI and Boot to Gecko projects are hoping to make web THE platform. You can actually view source on a Boot to Gecko phone. James was a little concerned at first that Mozilla was duplicating efforts, but Mozilla has made a commitment to bring everything into the W3C as it gets developed.
  • The goal of PhoneGap is to expose as many device APIs as possible.
  • SMS and camera access and more could make authentication far more frictionless. Email is a pain in the ass.
  • Privacy concerns aren’t as big of a deal as they are a user choice. Also, things that were historically taboo (i.e. sharing location) are now commonplace.
  • Progressive enhancement can give way to ‘no compromise’. If a photo app doesn’t have camera access, you’re not in business. Sometimes apps require advanced support and there’s little you can do to give an experience to unsupported platforms.
  • Ringmark is a way to gauge how advanced a mobile browser is and what APIs it supports.
  • We have an opportunity to evolve the web beyond a web of documents, and device APIs give us a glimpse of how to do that.

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