Fast Prototyping WoT Apps with NIWEA
I gave a few thoughts recently about what the iPad (& iPhone) represent for the WoT.
What it means for developers is that one doesn’t need to learn cocoa & co. and similar weird & proprietary languages for each target platform anymore. It takes time & money to develop an iPhone app (thus the designers’ nightmare when the client says “me too want iPhone app”). As our colleague Erik Wilde mentioned, many apps in the Apple Store could be implemented as Web apps directly (games are a different story and might need to be native for performance reasons). Besides, HTML5 seems to be a pretty versatile, lightweight, and powerful alternative to Flash, and full HTML5 support on future mobile browsers would be the perfect trick against the lack of support for flash in the iPhone (not everyone seemed to agree with the end of flash though, maybe now things have changed 2 years later…).
There is a lot going especially around sleek framework for building interactive and visually appealing UI for mobile devices, among which jQtouch, iui, or Sencha (pretty much everything about this was said by Jonathan Stark at our favourite sxsw’s presentation).
Sencha Touch Introduction. “Sencha Touch allows your web apps to look and feel like native apps. Beautiful user interface components and rich data management, all powered by the latest HTML5 and CSS3 web standards and ready for Android and Apple iOS devices. Keep them web-based or wrap them for distribution on mobile app stores.“
Caching & the N of NIWEA (native)
Using Web apps for mobile device might give the impression that the mobile *must* have Web connectivity at all times, which obviously wouldn’t be that practical. The simplest solution to have stand-alone (offline) Web apps is to use PhoneGap (PG) or Titanium which are the first steps towards NIWEA.
PhoneGap is described on the original site as:
An interesting alternative is to leverage the caching features of HTML/HTTP, so you can explicitly specify what data can be cached locally on a devices and for how long. But there’s a long road ahead towards a common definition (& rigorous/uniform implementation on all browsers). This is definitely an area that deserves through exploration, in particular for how to optimize Web apps rendering and sensor integration for various classes of devices.
iPad is more than just a big iPod
An essential virtue of the iPad was to open our eyes towards what it means beyond just an iPhone with a bigger screen, especially in terms of HCI. As explained by Matt Jones, the novel types of multi-users/-touch interactions enabled by such a larger display offers a fresh perspective for devices, an interactive surface you can share and use with others. Another excellent example is the great iPad radios (sorry, in german), an intriguing Web radio that augments the listening experience with pictures of the singer, and has been developed by our friends at liip (check this awesome “behind-the-curtains” overview of radios).
If you think of the Chumby as a great platform for interactive information display, then NIWEA is Chumby on steroids. Not only because it runs on many more platforms, but especially because the development life-cycle of NIWEA apps is so much shorter. And trust me, there are many Web developers out there waiting eagerly [for NIWEA frameworks] to put their talent and build great Web apps for pervasive screens.
Looking at the Mag+ concept video above offers a great glimpse into the future of media. In this gorgeous example, a digital surface such as the iPad offers countless new ways to distribute and interact with information, while gaining back the clean and aesthetically pleasing features of print media – the tangible experience. In our world overloaded with information, subtle, appealing, and efficient interfaces are required to interact with all types of media, and a flexible solution accessible to most is needed to maximize its utility.
More to follow soon!