Google’s Use of HTML 5 and WebKit for Mobile Web Apps

Alex Nicolaou, mobile web engineering manager at Google:

The benefits are clear: you can develop fantastic new applications, benefit from server-side analytics and iteration to deliver features that your users want, and know that offline functionality keeps things running as the user moves in and out of coverage. Your users can enjoy fast, capable web apps that they can access from any device, without the need to copy their data from place to place or worry about installing software or being online.

What’s interesting to me is that because WebKit is the dominant mobile browser, Google’s mobile web apps are taking far more advantage of these cutting-edge HTML 5 features than their “full” desktop web apps. I.e., you can now access Gmail offline on your iPhone, but not on your Mac or Windows PC.

Update: Ends up you can get offline access to Gmail from the desktop, if you install Gears and turn on a beta feature in Gmail Labs. That’s nowhere near as slick as on the iPhone, though, where it “just works” with no need to install anything.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009