Last week it was announced that we have joined the W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group (coremob), that was announced by Facebook at Mobile Word Congress (MWC). This group will work to accelerate the development of standards for mobile web technologies. We are excited to be part of this, as we believe web apps will be increasingly important in the future, as more and more people are starting to access the web directly from their mobile devices. Read on to get the full details about Facebook’s work to improve mobile browser standards and how we’re supporting these efforts!
Developing mobile web apps have many advantages. It’s a fast and easy way to reach a large audience without the need to develop versions for different operating systems, and a mobile app can be easily accessed via links and search engines. Also, updates for new features are instant and can reach 100% of your user base.
We have already shown our support for web technologies by being the first mobile phone manufacturer to support WebGL in our browser. A few weeks ago, we also published our WebGL implementation as open source. And now we’ve joined the W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group (coremob), that was announced by Facebook at MWC 2012.
The purpose of the coremob group is to support the community in the development of modern mobile web applications. This is done by accelerating the improvement and standardisation of mobile web technologies, in order to reduce the fragmentation of mobile web browsers.
Ringmark, Facebook’s mobile web browser test suite
Facebook has developed a test suite for mobile web browsers, called Ringmark, which is soon going to be open-sourced and donated to the coremob group. Ringmark provides an easy method to check web browser capabilities, by simply visiting a URL on your mobile web browser. The structure of Ringmark is introduced on Facebook’s HTML5 blog:
“Ring Zero represents the base functionality that most mobile phones have today. Ring One represents what functionality is needed to unlock the most common apps that developers want to build; specifically, 2D games, music and video apps, and camera apps.”
Sony’s 2011 Xperia phones are all capable enough to pass Ring Zero already, and we are working hard to improve our degree of compliance. If you’re interested, you can test the capabilities of the web browser on your phone, by going to rng.io!
It’s crucial, but not sufficient, to have better mobile browsers to ensure success for mobile web apps. A ubiquitous distribution solution is also required, and Facebook’s platform for mobile is one of the best available discovery solutions for mobile web developers. Facebook’s platform is a system of tools and features that bring social discovery to mobile apps and games.
Get to know the Facebook Mobile Platform
Facebook’s Mobile Platform provides many valuable features for developers that want to improve the discovery, distribution, and engagement of their applications. The platform has gained momentum in a short time, sending more than 60 million visitors to mobile apps and games every month. One important part is the Open Graph protocol, which makes it easy for users to share back to their Timeline and spread the word about your app through users and their friend’s News Feeds. In addition, a range of SDKs and APIs allow developers to create rich social experiences for their mobile users.
There is also support for accepting payments for digital goods or services within your app in the form of Facebook Credits. Facebook announced integration of the mobile payments solution with a group of mobile operators, providing a seamless three-step carrier-billing flow for mobile web apps using Facebook Credits.
To get started developing web apps for Facebook on a range of different platforms, check out Facebook’s Mobile Web Tutorial and the Facebook Android™ SDK . You can also register your web app to start using the Facebook mobile platform today.
Make use of new Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) features to enhance the web user experience
Another interesting addition of tools to enhance future web experiences is included in ICS (Android 4.0). It introduces several new features and APIs, which open up new possibilities for developers. Below we have listed a few features that are especially useful when developing your mobile web apps and games. They will all be supported by Xperia™ phones running ICS, and to try them out right away you can install the ICS beta ROM we released a couple of weeks ago.
- Multi touch – Once ICS is available, it will be possible to start to develop web applications that are using multi touch events. This should be good news to all game developers, since it opens for faster interaction and more advanced user interfaces.
- Camera capture – The Camera capture API leverage on the HTML input element, where a new capture attribute is introduced. This will enable the possibility for web applications to capture photos from the built in camera.
- HTML5 video – HTML5 video is introduced in ICS. This feature enables playback of video in the web browser. It’s strongly recommended for developers that are rendering video to start using the HTML 5 video element instead of Adobe Flash, since Adobe announced they’re stopping the investment in Adobe Flash for Android.
- CSS 3D transforms – CSS 3D transforms is an exciting feature that makes it possible to make transformations of objects in 3D space. This can also be done with WebGL, which is a 3D-rendering technology for web browsers, but if you feel that learning WebGL takes too much time, this is an easy way to enhance the rendering. For smartphones, this is a very useful feature since 3D transformation is an excellent mechanism to make more information visible for the end user on a small screen without overloading the end user with information.
Join us at Facebook’s Mobile Hack Roadshow
This week, Facebook has started a Mobile Hack Roadshow that will bring their popular mobile hack events to developers in Europe and Asia. At the events, developers will get the chance to meet Facebook engineers and learn more about mobile apps. We from Developer World will join them in most locations, and we hope to meet you there!
So what do you think, will web apps be the future of mobile applications? Have these new features and tools inspired you to start developing for the mobile web? Or are you already a mobile web developer? Drop us a comment and let us know your opinion!
- Read our blog post about introducing support for WebGL in Xperia phones.
- Check out our WebGL open source project.
- Visit the W3C Core Mobile Web Platform Community Group (coremob) web site.
- Read Facebook’s mobile web announcement from MWC.
- Check out Facebook’s blog post about Ringmark.
- Test the compliance of your mobile web browser at Rng.io.
- Dive into Facebook’s guide to mobile web development.
- Read HTML5 Rocks’ tutorial on the device orientation API.
- Learn how to use multi touch at HTML5 Rocks.
- Have a look at the Camera Capture API.
- Check out a demo of CSS 3D transforms.