Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward

In August, Mozilla introduced WebAPI, a standard API for web applications to communicate with various parts of smartphones such as contacts, dialing, the clock, etc. This would of course be with the user's permission or some other form of security. They want this API to be the same across all browsers, operating systems and devices. I think this is a great idea and it's really needed to make web-based apps "first class citizens" on mobile devices. Of course most apps may not need this level of access but if yours does, then greatly improving access to a mobile device's hardware, especially in a cross-browser way, would be great. We could certainly use it in Real Studio Web Edition.

But why stop there? Web apps running on browsers on desktop/laptop computers need similar levels of access. These types of devices may not be as sexy as mobile devices but I'd guess that more web apps are accessed from desktop/laptop computers than mobile devices. These apps could benefit from many of the same capabilities that are being suggested by Mozilla for WebAPI.

Web Apps are great because they are easy to access, require no installation and are easy to maintain for the end user. But while this is a step forward in application development, it's also two steps backward because of the limitations browsers impose in the name of security. I'm all for security but the browser can, as mobile browsers do for things like GeoLocation, ask the user's permission so insure security and enable more powerful web applications.

1 comment:

Steveorevo said...

The difference between asking for 'web application right to X', vs a clickwrap on a native installer are becoming blurred. Remembering such user preferences based on domain, so you don't have to answer the same question repeatedly, are already becoming the norm. In the end, domain based security and trust will make it easy for everyone.