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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nextstop Nicely Bridges Apps and HTML5

Robert Scoble has shared an interview with Carl and Adrian over at Nextstop. They have put together a slick iPhone app (and Android, etc) based on HTML5. The app looks fantastic.

What's slick about the app is how they've leveraged new browser functionality. They note what they've done via their blog...here's a synopsis of the cool stuff:
The technologies we're using include:

  • ApplicationCache: We've built our application using Javascript to manage page transitions, so the core HTML, Javascript, and CSS is only loaded once. We're using the HTML5 ApplicationCache to speed startup time on subsequent loads by caching Javascript and CSS so that these resources are cached for subsequent application loads.

  • Geolocation: We're utilizing Geolocation to get your current physical position in the browser to show nearby content.

  • localStorage: As you browse the application, we try to prefetch content aggressively so that any time you click, the content needed for the next page has already been downloaded. This is possible because we store all prefetched content locally on the phone using the localStorage object. This also means that as you browse to content you've already seen, no additional network requests are needed because that content has already been stored.

  • Google maps v3: Google has been working on a new version of the Maps API, specifically optimized for performance on mobile devices. We've found this to be a substantial improvement over Maps 2, and a reasonable alternative for a native maps implementation.

  • iphone-photo-picker: One of the key capabilities of the iPhone that isn't yet available through the browser is access to the camera and local photo library. To bridge this gap, we've built (and are open sourcing) a small helper application that exposes a urlscheme (photopicker://) that can be called from any web application to invoke the camera or photo library, and then will POST the selected image to a URL you specify.

That last item is very cool. Extending standard functionality of mobile devices into the browser is a huge enabler for everyone. Well done guys.

As Marshall noted yesterday,
Could mobile web apps challenge the dominance of native apps on the iPhone? That's an active debate.
The good news for the analytics world is that the standard tagging tracking methodology for these high-performance mobile web apps is fairly well known. However, there is new work to be done as we figure out what's important to track as new APIs are exposed, and mobile web app owners become more proficient with them.

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