uxebu and the Web as a mobile application platform

12 05 2011

I have been conducting a series of interviews of SMEs that use Web technologies to build mobile applications, as part of our work in the MobiWebApp project to build a standardization roadmap for mobile Web applications.

For this fifth interview, I have contacted Wolfram Kriesing, co-founder of uxebu, a Germany-based company that develops mobile cross-platform applications.

Hello Wolfram, could you give us a bit more details about your company?

We founded uxebu as a pure JavaScript company. We quickly moved into the mobile Web space and are trying to push the limits there now.

So we are packed with geeks who love to do bleeding edge web stuff especially on all the newest and hottest devices and (browser) runtimes out in the wild.

How have you been using Web technologies as part of your deployment of mobile applications?

We only use Web technologies for deploying mobile applications!

And to relieve us from the pain of installing an SDK we have launched the service apparat.io which allows to do the packaging of HTML5 apps into native apps. Currently only for iOS and Android, but we are working hard to broaden the reach.

What are the advantages you’ve found to using Web technologies?

The core of it all is our passion for the technology, that we all have already for a long time.

We know that the write-ones run-everywhere approach is not as easy as it sounds, but with the web and with all device vendors having the necessity to improve their web technology stack we are sure that we can get pretty far. It’s simply the future. Who doesn’t want to have a good browser on his device? And that is exactly the fact that is what is strengthening our approach.

And just look at the huge crowd out there with web experiences, we know we have to enable them all to create fascinating apps and web apps.

And by making it easy their ideas can become reality using just one set of technologies.

The browser is my SDK and the web my API – doesn’t that sound like it best fits web technologies? It does!

What are the missing pieces that prevent you from using Web technologies in more products, or in a more advanced fashion?

One thing that we see is being worked on are the device APIs. One common standard that is implemented across all devices is definitely a thing that is still lacking.

Sometimes we have the impression that more web technology focus will do the vendors good, but I guess that is in progress, it just takes a bit. And there are definitely areas where web technologies can not yet compete with native technologies but that is exactly our job to push those boundaries. And there are little successes and bigger ones every day!

In your experience, what are the type of situations where Web technologies are a better fit, and in what situations are they still lagging behind?

We would not (yet) use web technologies for games that require very hard core 3D action with very strong timing interaction patterns. But there are enough use cases that web technologies can cover very well. Just see all the information feeding apps, like news readers, twitter-like apps and alike. Though we have yet to find the time and funding inside uxebu to prove that we can go beyond and tackle the above mentioned use case, and we are working hard on it.

Expect to see something this year.

Any practical advice you would like to share with other companies that would like to take a similar approach?

Find a customer that believes in the web, who has a use case that fits web technologies well and go for it. Be sure to take some extra time and invest some knowledge and research in getting to a satisfactory result, it still is a road that needs to be paved. But there are enough companies out there who understand it and believe in exactly what we believe in and the number is growing. And don’t expect to never fail, that just makes you learn and want to reach the goal even harder.





Future Platforms on mobile Web applications

7 04 2011

I have been conducting a series of interviews of SMEs that use Web technologies to build mobile applications, as part of our work in the MobiWebApp project to build a standardization roadmap for mobile Web applications.

For this fourth interview, I have contacted Tom Hume, Managing Director of Future Platforms, a UK based software agency specialized in mobile.

Hello Tom, how would you describe the business of your company?

We launch software products for mobile phones. Over the years we’ve worked with most mobile platforms, including the web.

How have you been using Web technologies as part of your deployment of mobile applications?

Some of our first work, in 2000, was WAP sites and AvantGo (an offline web browser) services. Since then we’ve built mobile sites, hybrid native/web apps using PhoneGap, and have frequently used HTTP as a transport even in otherwise un-webbish applications.

What are the advantages you’ve found to using Web technologies?

The main one is speed of iteration of user interface; and finding skilled individuals who can work with them.

What are the missing pieces that prevent you from using Web technologies in more products, or in a more advanced fashion?

Browser fragmentation on mobile devices is a problem (even WebKit isn’t consistent). Performance of the web stack doesn’t match performance of native apps, and is unsuitable for producing apps which look native.

In your experience, what are the type of situations where Web technologies are a better fit, and in what situations are they still lagging behind?

They’re a great fit for adapting content to mobile devices and getting reach across a wide range of mobile OS and device platforms. They’re pretty good for producing apps which don’t necessarily look like native applications: we’ve done work for ad agencies which is a good fit, because they tend to be keen on producing highly branded, and therefore customised, apps.

They lag behind on delivering an experience which matches expectations of quality driven by native apps.

Any practical advice you would like to share with other companies that would like to take a similar approach?

Test across different platforms from the very beginning; evaluate the “kitchen sink” apps of toolkit and framework providers carefully; produce differing versions of your product for different OS platforms which fit with the UI metaphors of that platform. For instance, Android users expect to use the hardware back button, whilst iPhone users expect there to be a “back” button at the top left of their screen.








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