Tag Archives: dev

iPhone 3.0


Today, I watched the liveblogs coverage of the Apple iPhone OS 3 update. And I wasn’t the only one:picture-6
As I do a lot of iPhone stuff these days (more on that later, everything is still confidential..), I do have an opinion on todays release.

Things that I’m most exited about in the new iPhone OS (in no particular order ):

Streaming Video.

This is great. Previously streaming video was only possible by using quite complex hacks, on both ends of the stream (encoding the video into a special format, download that, unpack it on the phone). There were some parties that made it work, but it was really complex. Now it will work “out of the box”

Obviously this is useful for live events, as you can now watch them as they happen. They can now be streamed to an iPhone near you. But it’s also great for non-live events. I have talked to quite a few media moguls these days, and most made clear that there is quite a rights issue between downloading content, and streaming it. These parties don’t have the rights to offer their content for download, but they are allowed to stream it over the interwebs. With this announcement, they now can, to your iPhone.

Native Maps component

A lot of mobile software does something with maps: Mobile devices are portable by definition, so they make a lot of sense to show maps of the environment. And while the iPhone had a pretty good mapping application, until now you couldn’t use it in an application. You could link to it, but that would kick the user out of your application, into maps, without a simple way back . The other option was to show a webbased map in your app. But those are slower than the native maps, and have less interface options. For example: While google maps now does support pitching int their webbased apps, it doesn’t do the smooth resizing the native maps does, and which look nice. The addition of native maps is something I expected, but which will be quite usefull.

By the way, that other new mobile platform has had a native mapping component from the start.

Push Notifications.

While it’s great to have a good application platform, sometimes you want to be able to alert the user when he is not running your application. Especially when he can only run one application at the same time.For example, if you have a social application, you might want your phone to beep when your close to other users. Or when other things happen in the world.

To solve this, Apple already announced Push notifications a long time ago, but never got around to actually launching them.  Today they announced they finally will. This enables developers to alert users of (hopefully) relevant updates.

And the rest

Other things are also nice: The subscription model makes a lot of sense for applications that provide an ongoing service (social networks, for example). Music access has been wished by many, copy/paste and MMS are finally here (what took you so long!).

I can’t wait to get to play with the new API’s. Now the only drawback of a new OS is that a big part of the audience will run the old OS for way too long..

More on the new SDK can be found at Apple

(The top picture is taken by Engadget )

Android Devcamp is coming to town

Android Devcamp Amsterdam

Together with some other folks I’m organising Android Devcamp!

In the spirit of MobileDevcamp and iPhoneDevcamp, we’r organising a day to get started with the new mobile platform.

It will be a day full of hacking, pizza’s, API’s and Android Phones. We’r working on some great speakers, and there will be support from local API providers.  It will be Jan 8th, at Pakhuis de Zwijger. 

Sign up now or read more about it at androiddevcamp.nl

Hope to see you all there!

Why Phonegap is the future of mobile development


Mind the gap, CC from Flickr.

Last year at MWC in Barcelona, I talked with some people from W3C, the web standards body. They asked me why we developped native mobile applications, instead of using the mobile web. For me that boiled down to two things:  More controll over the user interface, and using context information not available in mobile browsers.

We agreed that in a few years, the mobile web would be similar to the current web, with all it’s ajaxy webaps.  That future is almost here (it’s just not evenly distributed yet :))

The first issue is being solved by better touch screens, which make it possible to directly interact with a (mobile) website’s UI, instead of selecting links with a 4 way button.  So the only real obstacle against developing just mobile sites is the context information that phones often have, but can’t be accessed from mobile browsers. This part is being solved by new projects, such as PhoneGap.

For the last few weeks I’ve been really exited about Phonegap.  It’s a framework that enables you to develop mobile applications in in web-languages, and wrap them as real applications. It’s bascially a full screen browser with no URL entry field, which provides a few extra javascript API’s to the pages it runs, and can be compiled as an application. They currently provide such a framework for the iPhone, Android and Blackberry phones, but are working on other platforms as well.

This approach has several advantages over native mobile development.  

  • More people know web frameworks then native languages such as Objective C, C++ or J2ME, so it’s easier to find people to devellop you applications. 
  • If you want to develop for multiple platforms, you can reuse most of your code. When writing a native application, a lot of work has to be done for each platform. With web framework most code runs on all supported platforms, and can be reused. The only native part is the container (which is opensource).
  • Since a lot of the code is webbased, it can easily be used for a mobile website version of your application (but without the context that phonegap provides). Or you can start with your mobile site, and build it into an application.

Phonegap also has other advantages over normal mobile websites:  Since the resulting application is a “real” application, it has it’s own place on the users phone. He can assign shortcuts to it, etc. Another advantage is that these applications can be sold, making money in the process. Even for free apps the application marketplaces (such as the apple appstore), are a big marketing tool, with over 300 million applications distributed to iphones.

Phonegap is not a one-size-fits-all solution: certain applications will require native applications, such as games.  Javascript, especially on slower devices such as phones, isn’t powerfull enough for most more advanced games.  Also complex visualisations can be impossible to do in a browser (especially since almost no phones support flash).

But it’s a good fit for a lot of information-centric systems.

I really believe in the future of mobile webapplications, and phonegap is a great step in that direction. At some point the native browsers in mobile devices will support these context api’s, and the extra layer won’t be nescassary anymore. 

Thanks to Peter of Bubblefoundry for pointing me to phonegap the first time.