May 14, 2012

What's to Become of Apps and Maps?

In the tech news, as well as in several conversations with friends, the future of platform specific apps and the Google Maps has been a hot topic lately. For a long time, Google Maps was the map service to use. And even as we speak, new app stores are being planned. But will they really flourish? Are they the future, or will something else replace them in the future? Something like HTML5? And OpenStreetMap?

HTML5 is a very potential app store killer. I am not convinced that browser based services can entirely replace local apps for a couple of reasons: first, in quite many cases, access to certain device settings or services is needed, and that again requires both a client API for the OS and device specific implementation, and second, if the application requires access to the network instead of running locally, it is quite easily crippled in locations with e.g. no proper 3G (let alone 4G) coverage, and data roming can be quite expensive.

Of course, HTML5 is capable of using local storage too, and jQuery mobile can be used for a rich user experience, so the question of accessing the device interface is the one that remains. And, from a purely usability and user experience point of view, I would see that running as web pages only may be a bit frustrating for users, especially while bookmarks are the only way to anchor the services to the device UI.

However, the first ones are here already. My boyfriend is working with the semantic web, and was reading an article that mentioned an iPad app of the sorts, but the app was not there. After a bit of googling, he found that it was now a web app, or web site, using HTML5. I myself just ran into an article about how to create a WinPhone app with HTML5 and jQuery mobile.

As for the maps. On my Lumia, the default map is Nokia Ovi Maps. Microsoft also has their own Bing Maps service that most probably will (and already does) play a major role in Windows8. Apple has already strated using the OpenStreetMaps in its own applications, such as iPhoto. If Apple funds the OpenStreetMaps, it most probably will become a pretty significant competitor for Google Maps. It is interesting to see, how and when the third party developers for Apple will catch on.

My previous post here in this blog was discussing the first generation feel of my Galaxy Tab. Right now we are at the second generation, even with the new iPad. The future isn't here yet. There is no status quo. Right now it looks like HTML5 & al. is the future of our mobile devices. But what else? Take a look at this interesting history comparison: Are Mobile Devices repeating PC History?

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