Where is the iPhone’s answer to Adobe AIR, or Google Gears?
Adobe’s AIR platform has shown that the web development model is fundamentally capable of delivering applications every bit as rich as native platform apps. Hence the outcry over the idea of web applications as the primary development model for the iPhone is overblown. Yes, the current iPhone development environment sucks but it’s important to keep in mind that we haven’t seen the true power of this model.
So what will Apple do if they are serious about the web development platform?
Top of the list – “the basics”
- file access
- camera access
- address book
But beyond these now familiar mobile device capabilities, there is an opportunity for Apple to provide powerful APIs that would provide an unparalleled mobile development environment, web or otherwise:
- SQLite local store
- Access to iTunes account-based charging
- Event subscriptions with persistent ECMAScript object handlers
- calendar events
- support for installable URI handlers
Key to app usability is that these capabilities should be provided through a user consent system which does not take away the user’s choice to make use of device features with a given application, a la the restrictions in many J2ME runtimes:
On first load, present the list of “privacy affecting” services being requested by the application – and listen to what the user wants! Empower the user already – they bought the damn thing.
Gut check: For anyone with development experience on J2ME, can you imagine going back to the underachiever that is the J2ME RMS storage API after being provided with a local SQL store?
The native app vs. web app argument is stale!