The world of smartphone app development is a frustrating, constantly changing place. To get a feel for what developers have to put up with, you needn’t look any further than the iTunes App Store. For the longest time, developers were allowed to churn out their creations using third-party software… until they weren’t. Out of the blue a little while back, they were once again. Should they be victorious in the long uphill battle to complete an application, that app has to go through a stringent approval process, where it could very well be disallowed, forcing the developer to either scrap her project or tweak it to Apple’s satisfaction. Throughout this process, developers make no money from the sweat of their brows. Worst of all, should the developer want to deploy his wares to a number of App Stores, she’ll be forced to jump through a number of similar hoops once again. With such a development environment, nobody wins. Innovation is stifled by strict and oft-times frustrating App Store rules, meaning that consumer yearning for an application available on one platform to come to another often goes unsated as developers spend so much time fighting through red tape that they’re too busy to transfer their work to a different OS ecosystem. Fortunately, things may be looking for individuals interested in cross-platform mobile application development, as a number of players in the mobile telecommunications game have banded together to sort out a universal web-based approach to application development. Their solution is one that will seem very familiar to long-time iPod touch or iPhone users: Web Apps.
A push to develop a secondary web-based application environment that could be utilized on all mobile phones, no matter what OS they operate under, is being put forward by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems, or FOKUS for short. FOKUS is a group of 22 organizations–including such notables as Sony Ericsson, the World Wide Web Consortium and a number of European telecoms–that have dedicated themselves to the development of a web-based application environment that would be accessible by any web-enabled device. FOKUS calls this one-for-all-and-all-for-one environment Webinos.Webinos would run independantly of a smartphone’s core OS, thus making the point of whether you’re rocking an iPhone, Nokia or Android handset irrelevant. In theory, FOKUS’ endeavor sounds like a great idea, but Webinos could have some difficulty gaining traction, as similar ventures such as Wholesale Applications Community, which launched last February have struggled to gain ground in the hearts and minds of developers or consumers.
So what do you think folks? Is a robust, cross-platform application environment the wave of the future or will we continue to rely heavily upon carrier and hardware manufacturer provided App Stores?
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