Paul Lopez Unwired

Personal blogging site for technology, business and everyday musings.

Results tagged “html5”

Why two might still be better than one

smartphoneConfusion.jpg

I've been following some recent discussion about mobile virtualization. One article by Alex Williams at ReadWriteWeb caught my attention. I agree that many people carry two smartphones today, one for business and one for personal use. It's true that mobile processors lack virtualization support at the hardware level and manufacturers would have to pre-load this type of functionality. I don't agree that virtualization will drive more downloads of apps onto a single device with dual partitions however. It has more to do with the change in application frameworks rather than optimizing bare metal VMWare hosts in mobile devices.  You wouldn't be able to run Android and iOS4 on the same device anyway.  You might want RIM Blackberry for business and Windows Mobile 7 or WebOS for personal apps, for example. Developers are getting tired of the multi-platform treadmill for keeping various versions of mobile apps up to date.  You create a "rich" web experience app using the latest HTML5 standards first and then wrap native code around it for the downloadable version. More advancement in local cache storage will alleviate the bandwidth demands too. This way your users to get the same look and feel and predictable UI behavior, no matter if it's downloaded from an app store or running in the mobile browser. 

Only Half of your Heart gets H.264 or WebM

MPEG-LA-Logo.jpg

The HTML5 Video wars have settled into two camps. Microsoft and Apple support H.264. This video codec was recently freed by the MPEG LA but only for video free to view by end users ("Internet Broadcast AVC Video"). Google open sourced its VP8 video in May under the WebM open Web media project with a BSD-style, royalty-free license­. Mozilla and Opera support WebM. I think H.264 is a short-term solution for Apple given the fact that the MPEG LA can change the fee structure in 2016. There is a possibility in the mean time that a pass-through fee could be imposed for protected video content running over iTV. Apple needs to get moving quickly on the follow-on to H.264 - HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding, aka H.265). HEVC aims to reduce bitrate requirements by half through increased computational complexity. Targeted at next generation HDTV systems with progressive scanned frame rates and scalable from QVGA to 1080p, it will fully replace the H.264. Apple also needs to make sure that its processors will be able to handle the future compression (3x or more) while preserving battery life and reducing device heat dissipation. Video standards can't be "free to roam or make a home out of everywhere they've been." It's too costly for content creators to publish to conflicting standards.

Google TV - the inverse of Apple TV

Google-smart-tv.jpgWhere Apple had a proprietary approach to TV, Google looks to introduce a set-top box based on Android, dubbed "Smart TV," at the I/O conference this week. Smart TV is in collaboration with Sony, Intel and Logitech and allows users to switch easily between TV shows, YouTube or home videos on your own set. The Apple TV, introduced in 2007, requires iTunes so users can buy or rent movies, TV shows, songs or podcasts. The Apple TV was a living room extension of the iTunes Store, that's about it. No major networks got on board with Apple.  Although earlier this year, we thought Disney and CBS were interested in Apple's offer of $2-$4/month per subscriber. That is much higher than networks get today. The only catch was Apple would sell a subscription without ads as a $30/month bundle. I doubted the networks would get on board because their source of reach is cable networks. Those cable MSOs do not want to compete with Internet TV served up by Apple. Google on the other hand, with Smart TV, would enable Google to control navigation of content through the TV set. They've been testing a search service to help consumers find shows on the Dish Network already. Intel provides the Atom chips, Sony provides the consumer brand and Logitech would provide a specialized remote with a built-in keyboard. On the video front, I think Google is about to open up the VP8 video codec acquired with their purchase of On2. The lack of an appropriate universal codec for the HTML5 video element has made it difficult for standards-based video to reach critical mass. H.264 compression still rules and so do its patents and license fees. VP8 is said to be highly sophisticated and competitive with H.264. If Google makes VP8's underlying intellectual property available under royalty-free terms, it could propel HTML5 video as the de-facto standard. Think HD Internet video in a browser from your 62" set! The wildcard is if they can keep the Android kernel for TV from fragmenting. Open Source is a two-edged sword as I've pointed out many times.
bitmap_ipad.pngKevin Kelleher of GigaOM posits in his article that Apple will eventually give up control of the iPhone & iPad environment, the application process, and limiting content to what is "appropriate" for its customers.  While I agree with his analogy of comparing Apple to WalMart in terms of being a retailer, I do not believe their walled garden limits innovation. The reason is during the early phases of technology adoption, it is better to have this type of control to preserve the brand experience. Apple could not afford to have sloppy applications or serve up what their customers might deem inappropriate. Very soon, customers will be able to experience unrestricted HMTL5 applications accessible over the web that will approach the current UI experience from fat client apps on iTunes. The same goes for iPad.  Apple is not only a "platform," it is a Brand and above all, that is what the company will preserve. Gadgets will change but the brand remains the same.
palm_webos_HP.jpg Most industry observers credit HP's acquisition of Palm as a good move to get back in the mobile business. I see it as potentially bending the Android developer growth curve. Programmers have to write Objective C for the iPhone, JavaME for Blackberry, Java for Android and Symbian for Nokia. That didn't leave much room for Palm webOS development, until now. Even though they already knew what they needed for webOS:  HTML(5), CSS and JavaScript, there just wasn't enough critical mass because developers couldn't get to it. This acquisition is about software and I believe the Pre and the Pixie will become collector items. The webOS is much lighter than HP's Touch Smart for Windows so I expect to see it powering the new HP Slate. In fact, webOS is better suited for places where Android doesn't work well like e-readers and web tablets. The issue is the open source Android device orphan. Remember, the Nexus One had new features not available to the Motorola Droid via a software download. When you get an Android, you are tied to the device, not the OS. With webOS, your phone improves when the OS is upgraded, just like the iPhone. I wished RIM had been bold enough to consider buying Palm. They certainly needed it. Now HP can come after RIM in the enterprise. HP can offer a mix of Android and Windows Mobile 7 for consumers or corporate users. Palm webOS gives them something of their own and a developer community waiting in the wings.

html5-logo.jpgThe first draft of the HTML5 spec appeared in early 2008. Its design purpose is to eliminate the need for plug-ins such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight or Sun JavaFX, especially when playing videos. Adobe Tools such as Creative Suite have enabled thousands of developers to make Flash the standard for 75% of video on the web today. But let's look at whose driving the standard. Ian Hickson is from Google and David Hyatt is from Apple, so it should come as no surprise why Adobe is odd man out. Refined standards take a long time to materialize; the Candidate Recommendation stage for HTML5 starts in 2012 and could end as late as 2022, but we're talking software, not hardware. Meanwhile, we are starting to see more useful implementations of the standard as it sits today. The recent iTunes Preview iPhone App is a good example of HTML5. The new Google Voice iPhone browser also uses HTML5 and leverages local caching of data. It supports voice tags that allow you to play audio voicemails in the browser. Is HTML5 advancing fast enough to overtake Flash on the web? If the CODEC debate of H.264 vs. Ogg Theora doesn't get resolved soon (H.264 has IP licensing and potential patent infringement issues), we will see a splintering of web browser support for HTML5 in the short term. For now, I'd keep some Flash developers around.

The next "Wave" of Collaboration?

Google-wave-logo.png

Lars Rasmussen and his brother Jens, the creators of Google Maps, trotted out a first look at their latest development, Google Wave, at the I/O developer conference last week. The audience gave them a pass on a few mishaps, but overall the new application was quite impressive.  Wave introduces new concepts in communication by thinking of conversations as container objects where you can drag and drop people, threads, links, documents, images and even robots that enable the content to instantly appear on connected clients over the Internet. Wave is written entirely in the Google Web Toolkit (GWT "Gwit"). The developer codes in Java and the tool converts to HTML5 & Ajax automatically. For developers, Wave stores updates to UI state in the local XML of your gadget. Then Google transmits that state over the network where the other instance of your gadget updates in real-time. Google estimates only 5% of the code needs to be adapted for mobile device browsers; most of which involve just a layout change. Wave removes the structure found in email replies by creating a hub of conversation trees where users can chime in at any level, playback what they've missed and leave replies for others to see. There is even support for Twitter using Twave to merge wave posts to and from the popular micro-blogging platform. My main concern is the amount of network traffic generated by hundreds or thousands of users in a real-time, collaborative web application. Another open issue is federated identity; Google requires users to have an account to access any of their applications. OpenSocial gadgets will be supported natively in Wave and I expect to see more consolidation in the social web authentication space this year. No wonder Google was quiet about Twitter acquisition rumors, they've got bigger ideas.

RIA-Arch-figure.jpg

HTML5 is an optimistic standards effort designed to bring all browsers, markup languages and plug-in APIs under one common industry framework. There has been an accelerated effort in technologies designed to make SaaS more robust by making web applications "behave" more like fat desktop applications. Concerns about connectivity, web response time and user experience have tapered the widespread adoption of these applications in the enterprise. Most success has occurred in the consumer/social web space. One promising development is the proliferation storage APIs. This facility creates a small database that is installed on the end user's client machine to enable access to application features normally operated while connected to the Internet. The one year old Google Gears is making some headway. MySpace has integrated Gears into its messaging application. Yahoo has introduced BrowserPlus in an effort to challenge both Google and Adobe Air. The idea is to have a web application accessible from the user's desktop much like a tray application or a native OS-based executable. One Yahoo demo allows users to edit photos on a desktop with Flickr before uploading to the web thereby increasing the speed and performance of such an operation. Most RIA APIs provide three things: a local database ("SQL Light"), a local object caching mechanism for images or web pages and thread pools to allow asynchronous tasks to occur in the background. These are the integral components of the architecture that enables a rich user experience. Go check out Buzzword.com for an Adobe example of a word processor written entirely in Flex. This brings us back to HTML5. Microsoft, Adobe and others (like CURL) are pushing ahead using some of the storage APIs from HTML5 but leaving other parts of the standard on the shelf. Apple has supported the Webkit open source project with Safari and has re-engineered their own site (removed Adobe Flash & PDFs) by using Ajax instead of proprietary alternatives. It will become increasingly difficult to try to adopt some kind of standard; HTML4 was probably the most successful. Innovation is very impatient with the standards process altogether I'm afraid. Being locked in to a proprietary approach may continue to inhibit the adoption in the enterprise. Most IT shops will choose to utilize a best of breed approach for specific RIA implementations in the short term.

About Paul Lopez

Paul Lopez Paul Lopez is a 20+ year technology veteran whose career has spanned multiple disciplines such as product management, software development, engineering, marketing, business development and operations... read more

Twitter

Connect with Paul