iPhone web apps aren’t being left behind by Apple, despite the fact that the App Store has gone onto become such a huge success following its introduction in 2008. In fact, according to John Gruber at Daring Fireball, recent efforts on the Mac maker’s part show a real dedication to improving the platform’s web application experience.
In a lengthy post comparing developing using Cocoa Touch for the App Store vs. developing web applications, Gruber goes over the strengths and limitations of both. In the end, he reveals that a new web app framework would bring the experience of using web apps much closer to that of apps which reside natively on the iPhone. The new framework is apparently called PastryKit, and it’s an official Apple endeavor.
PastryKit brings three really important things to the table for web developers:
- Hides the address bar, without the need to create a home screen shortcut first, which currently allows that.
- Allows for static, fixed position toolbars that don’t scroll along with the rest of the page.
- Allows for scrolling momentum, which allows users to “fling” lengthy lists without causing scroll friction, the way web apps generally do now.
There’s little doubt that Apple is keeping its eye on the mobile web space, which is poised to explode thanks to recent developments in web tech like HTML5, CSS and others. There are some things that the App Store is no doubt better for, including advanced 3-D games like the kind released by Gameloft, ngmoco and EA, but for other apps, an improved web interface could be just what the doctor ordered.
If Apple can get smaller developers who are creating apps with limited or light functionality to take their business to the web instead of routing through the App Store, it’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the static and chatter that currently gums up the review process and no doubt costs Cupertino a not-insignificant amount of overhead. It may lose revenue, too, but the more lucrative titles will likely remain as dedicated apps, being the aforementioned games from major publishers I mentioned above.