Microsoft Helps Bring Contre Jour to the Web

contre jour ieInternet Explorer gets a lot of bad reps for its monopoly stagnancy in the Web 1.0 days, and it deserved so. Putting its legacy aside, the IE team gave ways to many of the essential layers that power the modern Web 2.0 and browser technologies today. Such technologies include hardware acceleration and multi-touch standard for browsers. It’s now possible to develop advance web apps and games for the modern web landscape. (more…)

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Square Off: Adobe Flash vs. HTML5 on iOS Devices

Every Tuesday, iFans picks two controversial topics to debate about in the weekly “Square Off” column. This week, we’re pitting Adobe Flash against HTML5 and other alternatives for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Square Off Archives

For several years, iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users wondered if they would ever be able to run Adobe Flash on their devices. In the early days of iFans, over four-and-a-half years ago, there was actually a number of rumors that suggested Flash would make its way to iOS devices at some point in time. The nail in the coffin came in April 2010, however, when Steve Jobs published an open letter that explained why the company does not — and never will — employ Adobe Flash on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

While the debate continued about the implementation of Adobe Flash on iOS devices, a new alternative known as HTML5 emerged and took precedent on Apple’s mobile operating system. Nowadays, several games and web apps can be accessed in this open format. Although there is still progress that needs to be made with regards to HTML5, it has quickly become an industry standard for Apple. So, does HTML5 prevail, or would you still prefer to use Flash on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad? Sound off in the comments and feel free to mention other alternative formats such as H.264 for videos.

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Facebook is secretly creating their own “App Store” with HTML5 to compete with Apple

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is working on what they call “Project Spartan,” a codename for the social network’s secretive plans to create their own “App Store” on Apple devices. Facebook’s underlying goal behind this project is to build an HTML5 front end for all of Facebook’s existing apps to work on any Apple device. By using this new platform, Facebook will effectively bypass the necessity to use Adobe Flash–which currently powers Facebook’s desktop apps—to run their apps on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Facebook will run this mobile platform, which is allegedly “on the verge of launching,” through Apple’s mobile Safari browser. This is a rather sneaky, but completely understandable move for the social networking giant, because they’ll be able to avoid Apple’s tight App Store restrictions and exercise virtually complete control over their own app platform. Over eighty developers at Facebook are currently working on porting apps to this platform; noteworthy apps include the Huffington Post and games part of the Zynga network, like FarmVille.

Could this have anything to do with Facebook getting “snubbed” by Apple’s partnership with Twitter in iOS 5? While Facebook’s ulterior motive is create a distribution system for games and apps that will compete with Apple’s native App Store, they are also helping Apple by bringing Flash gaming to iOS devices. Facebook said they had “nothing to share” when asked to comment on the matter. We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

[TechCrunch]

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Official Google Voice App Now Available

The long-awaited official Google Voice application has finally made its way to the App Store, just two months after the first batch of unofficial Voice apps were approved. Google has been working on getting this app approved for over a year, and after its initial rejection, decided to remake it as an HTML5 web app to bypass Apple’s strict rules.

In September, Apple decided to relax their guidelines in effort to please the EU, who had begun an antitrust investigation into Apple’s policies. These changes have since allowed a number of previously reject-able apps into the App Store, such as Opera Mini, Skyfire, VLC, and more.

Google Voice is free, and uses data for SMS and calls, which makes it a great choice for budget-conscious users. The email-esque voicemail feature is especially handy (and doesn’t require you to change numbers).

  • Access your Google Voice account right from your iPhone.
  • Receive push notifications for new text or voicemail messages.
  • Send free text messages to U.S. numbers and make international calls at cheap rates.
  • Listen to your voicemail, read transcripts and manage your Google Voice inbox.
  • Display your Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls.
  • Call contacts from your iPhone Address Book or enter new numbers on the dialpad.
  • A Google Voice account is required to use this app. To sign up go to www.google.com/voice
  • Google Voice is only available in the United States.

[iTunes]

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Adobe Demos Flash to HTML5 Conversion Tool

At MAX 2010, Adobe showed off a Flash-to-HTML5 conversion tool, which will allow developers to quickly port their creations to the iOS-friendly language. As demonstrated by the Star Trek Commander in the video, it works quite well as an interim solution—but shouldn’t be used instead of native HTML5 code, which would obviously be better optimized.

It may seem like Adobe is shooting themselves in the foot, but in reality it’s a smart move. No matter what they do, Flash will eventually die, so it is better for them to start the transition early so they don’t end up stuck in the past. There is a lot of hype behind HTML5, but in its present form it is still not completely ready to replace Flash—even Google prefers to use Flash for YouTube videos on their new set-top-box. (Though mostly for the ability to run ads.)

At the very least, this tool will allow developers to quickly create HTML versions of websites, so you won’t have to stare at that “missing plugin Lego brick” when trying to load a restaurant’s menu on your iPhone.

[YouTube]

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Would Hulu on the iPhone be the coup-de-grace for flash?

Having just set myself up with international VPNs that, among other things, facilitate access to several streaming TV sites in the UK and US, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Jason Kilar supporting the move to support mobile platforms.  The usually tight-lipped CEO of the on-demand US TV streaming portal Hulu.com said ‘we are big believers in mobile and we don’t think about (just) one device only’, ‘mobile is a monster – we are very bullish. We will embrace any device’.

Youtube and Vimeo are already migrating to HTML5 and away from Adobe’s flash. Hulu may be going the same way. This could be the coup-de-grace for Adobe’s industry standard architecture given Apple’s stranglehold snub of the format on iPhone & iPad OS and the growing importance of the mobile platform for content distribution.

Is the decline of such an important format appropriate? Should the community not be pressuring Apple to incorporate flash? Or should the community be pressuring Adobe to rewrite and streamline flash?  Or do we just point blank need to move to a new format, such as HTML5? What do you think?

update: forum member shadowriver has written a great article on the subject of flash and html5 here

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