Google IO Blog Post and thoughts on the Open Mobile Web

So, Google IO has come and gone, and it was a very well run, organized, and generally awesome event. I learned a lot about Google as far as their HTML 5 strategy, and it was extremely interesting how they are flirting with putting HTML and Javascript on the phone.
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There’s a reason I say flirting. They aren’t betting all their chips on the web like Palm is doing with the Pre, and instead are being more pragmatic. However, this conference was interesting in the fact that PhoneGap was mentioned numerous times and the fact that Google showed people how to use what the Dan Morril called “Augmented Ajax”.

Augmented Ajax = PhoneGap

What I found interesting from a Hacker perspective was the NDK that was coming out in Donut, the new Edge build of Android. The NDK allows you to run native code and native libraries. Native libraries like libgpg, libsphinx and libpcap. Those are pretty important libraries, and can open it up to having GPG, Wireshark and actual Open Source Voice Recognition for those who don’t want to deal with Google Voice Recognition. This adds a LOT of freedom with the apps, assuming that most phones will be ARM.

Things that weren’t addressed was the state of the WebView on Android. I wanted to ask the question about WebView and why gears isn’t there, but I got the impression that the Google Devs don’t really use WebView. I suspect that once Android WebView supports HTML 5, that this will make PhoneGap on the Android Phone concentrate on sensor data, since Geolocation will be baked in by default.

The importance of making PhoneGap obsolete

The purpose of PhoneGap is for PhoneGap to not have to exist. PhoneGap is a statement as much as it is a platform. It says that we’re willing to bet on the Open Web. We believe that Web Technologies are the way of the future of development for most cases, and that things need to be open and communicate with the web. Right now, we’re getting closer with addJavascriptInterface on the WebView, BUT if we could just use HTML 5 to do what we want it to do, and if that could run just like a Native App, with an icon on the desktop, that’s the final goal. To have apps based on the web be first class citizens with apps that are on the mobile platform. Palm is doing this, but we need Google to start taking this seriously as well, since Google wants the web to win. Palm’s betting it all on the web, and that’s great. So are many other people.

And I think it’s clear by looking at what we do that we bet on the web, we want Web Technologies to win! Open Standards, Open Source and an Open Web helps us do our job better and it helps us work with our clients better and in a more transparent manner. I don’t care which platform has the best stuff, I care about which platform has the most open features that I can use anywhere. It’s why I run Linux on my personal systems, and it’s why I currently do Android stuff. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. However, it is a good, pragmatic choice for development that many people can stand behind.