Web Runtimes

vodafone.jpgThe final MoMo London presentation I am going  to post about is that by David Pollington of Vodafone R&D on web runtimes. David explained how a Javascript based runtime can be used to host mobile applications and services. The advantages are lower barriers to entry, reduced development time, decoupled application development and dynamic update.

David described the concept of an enhanced runtime that would allow access to phone features such as files, PIM, messaging, call handling, system data and the camera. Vodafone call this MobileScript.

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The presentation continued with a comparison of web runtimes with other development methods…

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The slide shows web page widgets having a greater reach than Java ME and native APIs. I found this a bit misleading. Very few phones are currently able to run (Javascript) widgets. Maybe the it shows the potential for widgets in the future? Then again, in an ideal or future world Java and Symbian might have a greater reach.

Vodafone are championing the idea of a standards based web runtime extension to allow access to phone features. In fact, just after MoMo, the there was a post on the W3C Mobile Web Initiative Team Blog about this. Let’s hope this happens. However, I am slightly sceptical that all the necessary parties can get together to solve this problem. I am also sceptical that this will be done (as opposed to ‘can be done’) in such a way that resulting applications and services don’t have to be re-written for specific devices. For example, the existing Nokia S60 widget support is currently a proprietary solution involving a S60 specific application install.