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As everyone know, with the latest release of the iPhone OS, Apple made all applications not developed natively with the Apple stack (XCode, Objective-C) “illegal”.

This change created a big turmoil in all developer communities because that means that no translators/converters/adapters can be used to develop native iPhone app. While probably this had the goal to ban only the new iPhone Packager included in Adobe CS5 (which would have allowed Flash developer to develop a Flash application and automatically make it an iPhone app), it might probably effect also on many other libraries, like MonoTouch (even if this is still an open debate).

From now on, if a company wants to make a cross-device application that also targets the iPhone/iPad, it has to do it in HTML5.

But while this is really bad from a philosophical point of view, and probably it was not Apple original goal behind the updated SDK license, this ban can have the side-effect of pushing forward all the technologies that are living under the name of HTML5.

In a recent comment, an Apple’s spokeswoman said:

Someone has it backwards — it is HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and H.264 (all supported by the iPhone and iPad) that are open and standard, while Adobe’s Flash is closed and proprietary.

If stop a few seconds and think about all the applications you have on your iPhone, you’ll probably recognize that most of them could have been developed as HTML5 applications, and mobile Safari is probably the browser that currently support most of the HTML5 standard:

And in addition mobile safari can detect gestures  and rotations:I don’t see any other feature you would need to make a compelling. And if you want the same look&feel of the native iPhone UI component you can use jQTouch.

And it seems that this exodus is already happening, as noted by Robert Scoble a few months ago.

So, the question is: Will this ban push HTML5? What do you think?

posted on Friday, April 23, 2010 1:00 PM

Comments on this entry:

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by Derik Whittkaker at 4/23/2010 1:57 PM

I think you may be right, but I am not 100% sure. I know at our company we are going through this very process of deciding on Silverlight for WP7 or HTML5.

Both have their pros/cons.

At the end of the day there will be many apps that are HTML5 based because they are closer to cross platform than doing something native. But at the same time native apps can provide a richer experience or an experience which fits the mode of the given device.

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by Shaun at 4/23/2010 1:58 PM

One thing that mobile safari doesn't support (at least it doesn't in iPhone OS 3) is uploading a file, such as a picture or video. I wrote an iPhone web application last year that required file upload only see that when mobile safari encounters <input type="file" />, it always disables it. I wonder if iPhone OS 4 is any better.

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by Shaun at 4/23/2010 2:01 PM

And with PhoneGap (http://www.phonegap.com), I believe that you can write HTML 5 applications that are deployed native. So they could still be included in the AppStore and monetized.

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by Simone at 4/23/2010 3:04 PM

@Shawn: I think that the iPhone disables the file input tag because on the iPhone there is not the concept of "file" and there is not native file browser.

@Derik: I agree... Windows Phone 7 has a very specific UI paradigm that cannot be replicated with HTML5, and a deeper integration with the phone itself.
But you would have not been able to take advantage from that even when building apps in a cross-device manner.
At the end of the day I think that building something specific for the device will give your users a better experience, so with that in mind I think that the new Apple license makes sense.

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by Davide at 4/23/2010 5:27 PM

You are right, but HTML5 has a very big limitation (which I don't think is possible to skip with such usability): in-app purchase (or better, ONE-CLICK purchase).

The apps developed by us are 99% html5 compatible and we could cut our development time, but in-app purchase is a must for "enterprise" applications which are distributed freely but you pay for some content (newspapers)...

# re: Is Apple doing a favor to HTML5?

Left by John at 4/27/2010 12:38 AM

In a word: Yes.

It's all about the ability to develop to a single platform. Silverlight lost MLB, because of Flash's installed customer base. On the pc, Flash is universal, Silverlight is not.

Now, on mobile phones and tablets, Html5 will be universal, but Flash won't. Flash will last awhile, just as Cobol has, but it's days of market dominance are coming to an end in the next 5 years.

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