Smartphone surge turning Web developers to HTML5

Rodney Gedda

Rodney Gedda is the former deputy editor of CIO and former editor of Techworld.

Today two interesting snippets of news surfaced and neither were about the Carbon Tax. We Australians have an appetite for smartphones and online job ads for HTML5 are skyrocketing. Are the two in any way related?

On the face of it the two trends do correlate. HTML5 allows for more rich media and content to be delivered by a standard Web browser without any plug-ins and Internet use on smartphones is growing – and smartphones tend to be lean compared with desktops.

From a development perspective, the “lowest common denominator” of mobile devices is a standard Webkit-based browser as seen in iOS and Android.

Sure Flash apps can be ported to iOS and many more high-end Android handsets are shipping with Flash integrated, but there are countless more smartphones available without any support for Flash at all – they’re the ones developers looking to maximise the reach of Web apps should be aiming at.

Incidentally, today I found out about the recently released Google Swiffy tool that will convert Flash files to HTML5 for use with browsers that support it. Adobe itself also has tools to convert Flash files to HTML.

If job ads on are anything to go by, HTML5 work is on the up and Flash is waning, but one company’s figures are only one type of barometer for the whole industry. Today’s news gives a little more anecdotal evidence, however.

In addition to not requiring any third-party plug-ins, the big advantage HTML5 has is its ubiquity across devices and browsers. Most smartphones embed WebKit, but in-theory a HTML5 site will work equally across IE and Firefox.

And as Jason Weaver argues in Mobile Marketer, there are a number of compelling reasons from a marketing perspective to ensure your brand is “HTML5-ready” so to speak.

Smartphone proliferation and HTML5 development are two exciting trends to keep an eye on and from a technology standpoint they are quite complementary.

Keep in mind many of the “apps” found on the iOS and Android app stores are wrappers around the phone’s native Web browser designed to look like a native application.

So the emergence of HTML5 also has the opportunity to give native mobile apps a run for their money in terms of features and usability, especially considering it supports offline mode as well.

In line with these two trends, developers are also releasing more tools and libraries to catapult the mobile Web app to new heights. Take a look at what’s already possible.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

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Tags: smartphones, Android, adobe, flash, html5, iPhone

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