HTML5 Popularity Growing as an Application Platform

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | September 1, 2013 - 06:39 PM |
Tagged: html5, app

Write once and run everywhere. Web developers, just a few years ago, would scoff and make some offhand comment about several versions of a major browser. The last couple of versions are adhering to standards even better than some other vendors. Applications which can reasonably ignore legacy versions, such as mobile apps embedding the rendering engine of their host OS, are able to reuse large chunks of code. Likewise, browsers have since refocused on performance and feature-parity with native platforms.

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Image Credit: Forrester via ZDNet

Forrester Research, as reported by ZDNet, conducted a survey of 478 North American and European mobile developers. Across all responders, 41% of man-hours are on average spent on native applications. 46% of man-hours are split fairly evenly between web apps and hybrid apps which contain both native and web components.

As such, more time is spent developing applications which take advantage of web standards, to some extent, than apps which do not.

The report finds enterprise applications are more likely to shift towards web technologies than consumer apps. This makes sense in two ways: enterprise software use default user interface elements and, to some extent, less tolerance for the platform owner unilaterally managing compatibility. I would also expect developers of consumer apps to be more concerned about performance and snappy response.

But web technologies are still getting better. Even Epic Games expects many Unreal Engine 4 titles to be handled directly by web browser -- even fully offline experiences. I mean, if you have ever designed a website, you have probably tested it within some random directory in your hard drive. Just because it runs in a web browser, does not mean it requires an internet connection.

It should, however, imply compatibility with other browsers. The curse and the blessing for web developers.

Source: ZDNet

Hands On: VideoLAN Releases VLC Beta for Android App

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2012 - 11:31 AM |
Tagged: vlc, videolan, media player, free, app, Android

VideoLAN, the developers behind the popular free and open source media player VLC have crafted an Android version that has recently reached beta status. For everyone not in North America, you can grab the free VLC application from the Google Play Store. The restriction is reportedly a result of the developers not having access to American versions of the smartphones in question. If you are in North America and would still like to test out the app, you will need to grab it from either the VideoLAN nightly build server or the Jenkins server which both compile and store the latest builds on a daily basis. Once you’ve downloaded that app, navigate to it on your Android phone and choose to open it with the Package Installer.

The build is a bit rough around the edges, and performance leaves a lot to be desired, but it is still early in the development cycle. Especially if you are running an older single core phone (or even one that has no NEON hardware acceleration), VLC will struggle with even 720p content. The team is asking everyone to run a few tests for them and to report back using this form to help them gather needed performance data and to identify bugs.

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As far as what phones will be compatible, Jenkins has complied daily builds that will work with phones using hardware as old as ARMv5 and as new as ARMv7 with NEON. VLC for Android is also compatible with Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 SoCs using the nightly builds. ExtremeTech notes that the chips with the NEON SIMD hardware includes Qualcomm Snapdragon S2/3/4, Samsung Exynos, TI OMAP 4/5, and Tegra 3 processors. If your phone does not have one of those SoCs, you should download one of the non-NEON nightly builds depending on which version of ARM it is based on. VideoLAN recommends using gsmarena.com as a reference for which chipset your phone uses but I did not have success if using it to track down the specific chipset in my Samsung Infuse. I had to turn to the search engines for help there. If you aren’t able to find the information, feel free to tell us your phone model in the comments and I’ll try to help you figure out the SoC it uses.

Hands On:

Below you will find a video showing off the latest VLC for Android build as we install it and test it with a variety of video and audio files. From my testing, the performance has gotten slightly better with the latest nightly build (#123), but the video and audio drift out of sync very quickly and the video frame rate is nowhere near as smooth as the built in Videos application. The performance /should/ improve as the app gets closer to final release, however. I’m hoping that VLC for Android will become an even better, and free, alternative to the paid-for VPlayer application that I also have on my phone for the files that the Videos app struggles with.

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VLC for Android playing back a DVD of Live Free or Die Hard (480p, H.264 MP4)

Anyway, without further adieu, let’s take a look at the latest Android VLC app.

As a reminder, here are some useful links to getting the VLC app and assisting with the development process:

Useful Links

More screenshots and details after the break.

 

Source: VideoLAN