Developing Portable Mobile Web Applications
Mobile applications for iPhone and Android smartphones are where the excitement is today in application development. There are plenty of customers (Canalys says there were almost 8 million Android phones and more than 25 million iPhones sold in 2009), and those users regularly load applications on their phones (AdMob says Android and iPhone users average around nine downloads a month, and iTouch users average around 12). The demand for mobile applications is hot.
How can a Linux developer tackle this market? Native applications for the iPhone must be developed with the Apple iPhone SDK, which runs only on Mac OS X. Android development is supported on Linux with the Android SDK, but ideally, you'd like to develop apps on Linux that run on both iPhone and Android.
Browser security prevented the storage of local data.
Users had to start the browser to use a Web app, which then didn't match the native UI.
HTML5 and related specifications add features like canvas, video, local storage, Web workers, off-line applications and geolocation to HTML, and WebKit is rapidly integrating these into the layout engine.
iUi: a small extensible library that mimics the iPhone user interface.
iWebKit: another framework for iPhone-style applications.
Android and iPhone both use WebKit as their layout engine, but there are still differences, partly due to the selection of different WebKit releases:
Android 1.6 (HTC G1) uses WebKit 525.20 and implements only Canvas, Canvas Text and Geolocation.
Android 2.1 (Motorola Droid) uses WebKit 530.17 and adds the rest of HTML5 (video, audio, local storage, Web Workers and off-line applications).
iPhone 3GS and iTouch use WebKit 528.16 and .18 and include all features except for Web Workers (multithreading).
iPad uses WebKit 531.21 and includes all features.
Developing Web applications for smartphones is pretty straightforward, but there are some things you need to know:
It's not like C: if you're used to developing Linux applications in C or C++ or Java or Perl, this is different. Web application development is a little closer to the Android development environment, where screen layouts are in XML files, and functionality is written in Java, but mostly, it's like Web development.
Native apps require native SDKs: if you want users to be able to load your application from iTunes and Android Market, you have to enable that with the appropriate SDKs. There are workarounds that I talk about later.
Rick Rogers has been a professional embedded developer for more than 30 years. Now specializing in mobile application software, when Rick isn't writing software for a living, he's writing books and magazine articles like this one.
Pick up any e-commerce web or mobile app today, and you’ll be holding a mashup of interconnected applications and services from a variety of different providers. For instance, when you connect to Amazon’s e-commerce app, cookies, tags and pixels that are monitored by solutions like Exact Target, BazaarVoice, Bing, Shopzilla, Liveramp and Google Tag Manager track every action you take. You’re presented with special offers and coupons based on your viewing and buying patterns. If you find something you want for your birthday, a third party manages your wish list, which you can share through multiple social- media outlets or email to a friend. When you select something to buy, you find yourself presented with similar items as kind suggestions. And when you finally check out, you’re offered the ability to pay with promo codes, gifts cards, PayPal or a variety of credit cards.Get the Guide
- Ubuntu MATE, Not Just a Whim
- Canonical Ltd.'s Ubuntu Core
- Build Your Own Raspberry Pi Camera
- Nasdaq Selects Drupal 8
- Non-Linux FOSS: Screenshotting for Fun and Profit!
- Secure Desktops with Qubes: Compartmentalization
- Download "Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI"
- The Peculiar Case of Email in the Cloud
- A New Mental Model for Computers and Networks
- Netlist, Inc.'s HybriDIMM Storage Class Memory