Mobile Technology

Universal app platform in the works

Universal app platform in the ...
Universal app platform in the works (Photo: Daniel Zanetti)
Universal app platform in the works (Photo: Daniel Zanetti)
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Universal app platform in the works (Photo: Daniel Zanetti)
Universal app platform in the works (Photo: Daniel Zanetti)

Apps for mobile devices are transforming the way we use the Internet, but some people will tell you that one big obstacle is still keeping them from reaching their full potential – the fact that specific apps can only be used on specific devices. Imagine how limiting it would be if only certain computers could use Google or eBay, and you begin to see their point. Not only does this situation limit the app selection available to consumers, but it also lessens the incentive for developers to create new apps. Webinos, however, is looking to change that. The European research consortium includes over 20 member organizations from the mobile web, consumer electronics, and automotive industries, all committed to developing an open source platform that will allow the creation of applications that can be used on multiple devices.

“The vision of the project is to create ‘a universal application platform,'” said Dr. Stephan Steglich, of consortium lead group Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS. “That means, we aim to enable the use of web applications consistently and securely across all Internet-enabled screens – including mobile, PC, TV and in-car entertainment units.”

Webinos includes high-profile members such as Deutsche Telekom, Telcom Italia, BMW Research and Technology, Sony Ericsson and Samsung Electronics. Another member is W3C, the international Internet standards group. Other interested groups are welcome to join.

Development protocol will be industry-based, instead of being biased towards any one company or type of device. It is hoped that this will encourage collaboration between app developers, device manufacturers, and users.

The three-year project starts this month, and is co-funded by the European Union, which provided a €10 million (US$13,066,256) grant.

Nick Herbert
Now that all the fuss about the iPhone 4\'s launch - and attendant antenna issues - has died down, when is some kind App-maker going to develop a simple (i.e., free!), App to switch the integral Video/Camera flash LED light on - continuously - as a general-purpose flashlight? We can already turn this light on and off at will - just go to Camera>Video> and the light comes on (Don\'t touch the Start button, unless you want to record whatever you\'re illuminating...), so a simple App would effectively \"short-cut\" this process, with a big Red \"ON\" button - or the iPhone \"Sliding Switch\" icon, to control the light without activating the camera. Simple - if you\'re one of the miriads of iPhone geeks out there. But just think of the public acclaim as you release Your (free...!), application on a grateful globe.
- There are indeed free apps available that turn the iPhone 4's LED flash on. A search for "light" in the App Store should provide a couple, but be prepared for battery life to take a hit if you use them for too long though. - Ed.
Matt Rings
Expect Steve Jobs to vehemently oppose any innovation that would relinquish one iota of power and control over the Apple app process and software rules.
Facebook User
Yeah, nice try selling Jobs on this. I honestly think this will be a wasted venture. Total and complete fail. Companies such as Apple, like controlling how the user experiences their products and to run the risk of letting another company make business decisions with their brand will absolutely not happen. I am willing to put money on this.
Don Mallicoat
A universal app would be great. BUT the reason that all of these apps won't work on all devices is that the OS' on them are proprietary and therefore doesn't play nice with everything by design. While a uApp platform would be great on paper, to get all the OS' to play nice AND allow it is a long shot. This battle isn't new it's been going on since the very first bits of data were processed.
Unfortunately it's all about control and profits, and therefore won't fade anytime soon.