An avenue of investigation that the geo mobile project has been looking at in detail is the use of HTML5 browser technolgy such as Canvas, GeoLocation and Local Storage as an alternative to building native applications. While we have discovered some limitations to this approach it still remains a promising way of delivering an application easily across a range of devices and might be suited to higher education, where wider access is perhaps more important than speed and responsiveness. Our thinking is that if an app is free of charge users are likely to tolerate a slightly less responsive interface, especially if this means we can get an app to a broader range of devices. Its heartening then to discover that this tactic now has a trendy name, “Mobile Touch Web”, which the search company Taptu defines as
“Web sites created for mobile touchscreen devices, with finger-friendly layouts and lightweight pages that are fast to load over cellular networks.” Mobile Touch Web is apparently going to be the Next Big Thing according to a recent blog. I still think there are too many quirks in the ways mobile browser implement HTML5 for the Mobile Touch Web to take off just yet. However some of these problems can be mitigated by embedding the browser in a native application. Although you still need to build and deploy a native app, most of the code will be browser based, increasing code reuse across different platforms and bringing down costs. It may be a necessary tradeoff in these budget slashing times.