You’ve read about the rise of HTML5 in mobile application development and maybe it made you wonder why people still design apps for specific platforms. After all, if your app can go out to Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and iOS users through the power of HTML5, why bother with other application development methods? HTML5 is fantastic, but there are plenty of good reasons to design apps for specific platforms.
First, HTML5 is still not a formal standard. It’s a great update to HyperText Markup Language, but it’s not 100 percent consistent between browsers and runtimes; it’s also not 100 percent understood how it can be used yet. It’s good to push the boundaries of web and application design, but when you’re working on an app you may have other priorities.
Concerns like excellent 3D animation, application design, and marketing should take top billing over exploring the limits of HTML5 (at least while you’re designing your app). Focusing on the cool new features present in HTML5 isn’t going to make your app better; if anything, focusing on HTML5 instead of your app will split your focus. You’re not hoping to see HTML5 go viral– you want to see your app on every smartphone and tablet.
Next, HTML5 is less able to take advantage of platform or device-specific features. This means that the user experience may suffer somewhat, since native apps will be designed with one kind of user in mind while an HTML5 app must be generic to cater to everyone.
In other words, you can only use features that every platform supports if you use HTML5 to deploy your app to every user. If an iOS user is familiar with iOS interface and apps, then your app may feel strange or unwieldy to that user when it is released via HTML5. An app that doesn’t resonate with a user may be one that is rarely opened or, worse, uninstalled.
While HTML5 apps are less expensive than creating the same program to run as a native app on multiple platforms, your mileage may vary. A well-designed app is going to generate more buzz than an app that doesn’t satisfy customers. It may be difficult to reach those customers with an HTML5 app because, at this time, the top app stores are iOS, Amazon and Google Play - none of which are HTML5 app stores.
While many are positive about the rise of HTML5 apps, there’s no reason to think native apps will go the way of the dinosaur anytime soon. HTML5 brings a lot of great things to the table and will provide lots of benefits for mobile device users. It’s new, it’s exciting, but it just isn’t the only fish in the sea.
A Scottish company in Edinburgh, a politician in Florida and patents being filed by the Xbox 720 team are all creating new examples of augmented reality technology.
Zappar, an apparel company based in Edinburgh, sells t-shirts that “come alive” when a viewer looks at one through a mobile device, according to the Daily Record. More than a million shirts have already been purchased; the company recently signed a deal with Wal-Mart to bring their augmented reality t-shirts into US stores.
Kirk Ewing, a developer at Zappar, said “AR will merge the real world with the computer world. It sounds scary but it will become second nature and we’re the first people to be doing things with it commercially. In the future, you will be able to wear special glasses and see ads coming out of shops and get the football scores off a stranger’s chest as you walk down the street.”
Jim Ronecker, the mayor of Oldsmar, Florida, is using augmented reality to reach people, too. He recently sent out postcards to show his support for his party's candidates. The postcards show videos of the candidates through a QR code, instead of only printed text and images. Ronecker owns a print shop, in addition to his mayoral duties.
Ronecker released a statement, saying, “This technology will change, forever, the way political campaigns use printed campaign material, and could be a lifeline to the print industry in the U.S., which is seeing companies close down daily.”
The upcoming Xbox 720 may also be taking advantage of augmented reality technology. Microsoft recently filed a patent showing images being displayed on furniture and other surfaces in the gaming area. Tell Me News indicates the images may immerse the player more deeply in the gaming environment. The “116” device, referenced in the patent application, may also include both headgear and colored glasses to make the gaming area even more lifelike.
Though the Xbox 720 hasn't been officially announced yet, rumors point to a possible fall 2013 introduction.
The gaming industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Steam, one of the premiere companies for online games, recently crossed the 500 million user mark. New consoles, new games and the sequels to incredibly popular games are already on the way. Where gaming consoles and services were once just part of a larger multimedia system, they're increasingly becoming a hub for movies, music, communications, and television.
To celebrate ever-expanding user base, Steam launched Big Picture Mode last week. It integrates Steam games into your television with an Xbox-live like menu that opens at the press of a button. All the capabilities of a normal Steam account are there, but the layout is different.
More importantly, though, Steam's Big Picture Mode lets users play the games with controllers instead of a keyboard and mouse. As Kotaku points out, it doesn't mean the end of console gaming, but it will definitely entice new users to try PC gaming.
TV integration takes another step
Nintendo has gone a step further with TV integration. The newly announced TVii brings video streaming to the WiiU in a way that hasn't been seen on consoles before. Instead of just connecting users to services like Netflix and Amazon Streaming Video, it brings cable onto your console. The gamepad will act as a universal remote, as well as connecting a user to content like commentary.
The TVii service may also include a TV Guide of sorts and TiVo-like functionality.
And speaking of screens...
Now that mobile gamers outnumber traditional computer and console gamers, it's no surprise that Minecraft, a popular game on both PC and Xbox, is now available on Kindle Fire. Minecraft: Pocket Edition has been available for both iOS and Android for some time now; the app being released to the Kindle Fire not only shows how important it is for apps to be released to all possible platforms, but just how many people are playing games on any type of tablet.
Augmented reality glasses were the stuff of science fiction only ten years ago. Now they're in—or more accurately on—people's faces. Google Glasses were in attendance at 2012's New York Fashion Week; the models at Diane Von Furstenburg's show wore the glasses, but they weren't the only ones. Von Furstenburg's documentary, filmed on Google Glasses, shows passersby and audience members in the glasses, too.
Google Glasses may be the augmented reality product everyone's talking about, but they're not the only game in town.
Vuzix, for example, announced their Star 1200 XL wide field augmented reality glasses on September 18. The 35 degree view is designed to work in a number of industrial and commercial applications, according to Herald Online. They will use 3DOF motion tracking sensors and a built in camera to interact with the environment. The glass's display is native 16:9 format with full color WVGA.
A prototype by the Technology Department in Cambridge, UK takes a different approach to augmented reality. The glasses look normal, with full frames and lenses, but feature a tiny projector in one of the arms. The image is reflected onto the glasses and into the eyes, allowing a user to view the AR content on top of the environment the user sees when looking ahead.
The Guardian reported that the same company created a technology that allows users to control the glasses with eye movements alone.
There is also a possibility that Sony will introduce its own augmented reality glasses at the Tokyo Game Show later this year. The rumors come from a Japanese advertisement released by Sony that showcases its newest headset, complete with a mounted front-facing camera. The headset would be more likely used in video games than while walking around on the streets or working, showcasing yet another use for augmented reality glasses.
When augmented reality glasses make their way into retail stores, there'll be more than one brand on the shelves. The only real question will be which offer the features you want—and look good on your face.
If you have an idea for an augmented reality or Google Glass app, email us to get started creating it.
For the first time, a game on Facebook allows players to use real money, instead of credits, to play a game.
It's called Bingo and Slots Friendzy and it's an extension of a Gamesys franchise called Jackpotjoy.com. The game is only available to UK Facebook users over the age of 18.
Facebook allows game creators to offer apps that Facebook itself hasn't created. Games like FarmVille, Hobo Wars and more have entertained Facebook users since before 2010, but none have allowed players to use real money in-game. Instead, players could purchase credits that could be exchanged for in-app purchases.
Facebook credits are available online, through Paypal, on the Facebook app or at certain retailers. Credit packages range from 50 credits for $5 to 2,360 credits for $200. The credits platform has been available since 2009, but wasn't more widely used until after it was rolled out to 14 applications in January of 2010. At that time, credits could be used for applications like Birthday Calendar, to purchase e-gifts for friends; (fluff)Friends, where items could be purchased for a virtual pet; and Happy Aquarium, where upgrades were available with credits.
Facebook credits are even more popular now and are one of the main ways to make money on Facebook apps. They were the only form of currency used on Facebook games until the new gambling game.
Players must provide access to a valid credit card before playing Bingo Friendzy. Once they do, they can wager money in gambling-based games. Players who win will receive real cash prizes. Gamesys has reported that it is in compliance with gambling regulations and will give players access to resources to help them limit their access and spending in the app.
Of course, the new cash-wagering game is only the first of what may be many. Facebook representatives have said that similar games will be released soon. Zynga has also announced plans to launch its own slot machine and bingo applications in the UK.
Many countries, including the United States, have laws restricting games of chance.