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Dawn of the Modern Mobile Web

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The years 2006 and 2007 were seminal in the development of the mobile web. For several years,
high - end mobile devices in Europe, Asia, and the United States had been gaining relatively high - resolution color screens and increasingly powerful processors. Together with a widespread rollout of third Generation (3G) network connectivity, sometimes with fl at rates of data usage, this now meant that many of the constraints of older devices and networks were now removed, and there was a decreasing need to rely on “ lite” pastiches of the Web, such as WAP and i - mode, to deliver information to handsets. Finally, there was a possibility that much of the regular web could be browsed, cost effectively, on high - end mobile devices.

A presage of this change was Nokia ’ s often overlooked decision to develop a port of the WebKit web browser to its Symbian operating system in 2005. (WebKit, the underlying engine of Apple ’ s recently released Safari browser, had been open - sourced by the company that year.)

Nokia ’ s first handsets to carry the resulting S60 Browser were extremely successful, if not entirely because of the browser alone. The fact that most browsers supported WiFi (for fast, free network connectivity) and that even the richest web content could be browsed quite capably (with the help of a full - screen zoom - in/out feature) meant that many developers saw a future in which the mobile device would become a viable first - class citizen of the Web, rather than one crippled by slow bandwidth and prohibitive Internet access.

Any lingering doubts that full mobile web access was just an esoteric dream were shattered in 2007, when Apple — a new entrant to the mobile handset business — launched its iPhone device.
Promoted as a combination of phone, music player, and Internet communicator, a large part of the iPhone ’ s attractiveness to consumers was its ability to render desktop websites with high fidelity, and pan and zoom through them elegantly using a multi - touch screen. The handset came bundled with unlimited data plans from most of its launch carriers.

When first launched, the iPhone did not allow third - party applications to run on it, and Apple encouraged those who wanted to create services for the device to do so through the use of the
web browser. Although the browser could display full web pages, developers quickly realized that users responded well to simple, efficient user - interfaces that mimicked the device ’ s built - in applications. Apple published guidelines for creating websites that adhered to iPhone - based user interface conventions, but which used fully fl edged web standards like HTML and CSS. As a result, thousands of web developers started creating iPhone - ready sites, targeted at these mobile users.

A wholehearted adoption of web technologies for mobile applications stalled somewhat with the
release of v2 of the iPhone operating system. With this release came the ability for developers to create native applications for the platform, together with rich access to device APIs (such as motion sensors, camera access, and geolocation) that the web browser did not provide. In the ensuing “ gold rush, ” thousands of developers fl ocked to developing these native applications — games in particular — that also held the opportunity for monetization through Apple ’ s newly launched App Store. Google ’ s Android platform was also launched in 2008, and while also sporting a very capable web browser, it encouraged developers to write native, rather than web - based, applications.

At the time of this writing, however, the mobile web is back in the ascendency. The irony is arguably that the native application concept has been a victim of its own success: users of many different handset platforms now expect to be given a native app experience, but the proliferation of high - end mobile operating systems means that the costs and effort involved in developing such apps is rapidly rising.

Developing web applications, on the other hand, offers the tempting opportunity to “ develop once, run multiply. ” Diversity between handset types and browsers means that there is still a strong need to create sites and designs that adapt to different browser platforms, screen sizes, and so on, but at least there is a chance to address a wide range of handsets, from the most - capable to the least - capable web - enabled device, with a common set of technologies and with a single development and deployment approach. Add to this the speed with which mobile browser technology is evolving, with which APIs are becoming richer, and with which the underlying standards are being developed, and it is no surprise that it is increasingly accepted that the Web looks set to be the dominant content delivery platform for the mobile generation.

Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Mobile Web Development with WordPress Joomla and Drupal

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