Google Keeps Riding the HTML5 Train–Adds Support for Safari


Google’s (s goog) been busy recently adding HTML5-powered features to Gmail, such as the ability to drag files onto emails to attach them and to drag and drop images into messages to insert them into the message body, but they’ve only been offered to users running the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Those features are becoming more widely available, with the news that Google has now extended support to Safari 5.

Why is Google actively pursuing a strategy of rolling out HTML5 features in its web apps, even though some browsers — notably Internet Explorer (s msft) — don’t support them yet, and the HTML5 spec itself is not expected to be fully complete until 2022? Google wants to tempt more users away from the desktop to its web app products, and as I discuss in my latest Long View on GigaOM Pro, “HTML5’s a Game-Changer for Web Apps,” (sub req’d) HTML5 will allow Google to build more complex applications that behave much more like desktop apps. Unlike competing rich web app technologies like Flash (s adbe) and Silverlight that require the use of a plugin, HTML5 is an open web standard that will be widely supported on mobile devices. This should enable Google to build richer apps that will run anywhere without having to build native apps for various mobile platforms.

Google’s also betting on HTML5 because it should also improve speed and responsiveness. At his keynote recently at Usenix WebApps ‘10 in Boston, Google engineer Adam de Boor said using HTML5 and CSS3 should slash Gmail’s load time by 12 percent, with the eventual aim to get load times to under one second.

More broadly, HTML5 presents a huge opportunity for web app developers to gain an advantage in a highly competitive market and we should expect to see more web app vendors following Google’s lead. So while many web app developers will be licking their lips over the opportunities that HTML5 provides, web workers should be rubbing their hands with glee, too. The explosion of useful collaborative web apps we’ve witnessed over the last few years  — which, coupled with an increase in bandwidth and better hardware has helped power the web work revolution — is about to be followed by a new wave of rich, desktop-like HTML5-powered apps.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub req’d): HTML5’s a Game-Changer for Web Apps

Image by Flickr user justinsomnia, licensed under CC 2.0.



New features for Safari or other browsers is fine but what is the point if Google Sites dows not allow uploading of basic fil like CSS file so that users can create better websites!

Why can’t google sites not be like other hosts so that its members can be as creative as possible in designing a better looking website.

Justin James

I agree that most people conflate “fully complete” with “recommendation”, but they’d be wrong. It’s a huge terminology issue that W3C needs to address. It’s kind of funny, because in that interview, Ian tried very hard to lay it all out… yet that piece is the most linked-to article I’ve ever written (by far) and I think there have only been one or two people who cite it who really understood what he meant.

Earlier this year, I did a follow-up interview with him, and I asked him why so many folks get this angle wrong. He didn’t really answer the question per se, but you may be interested in the article all the same:



After a recent discussion with a tech friend of mine, my opinion is that HTML5 will make many companies such as google not rely on outsider collaboration/dependence, which has good and bad points I’m sure, but has anyone noticed how the Flash/HTML5 discussion really leaves Silverlight out? I wonder what MSFT’s future plans will be…

Justin James

You’ve misunderstood Ian Hickson’s comments regarding the HTML 5 “completion date” like nearly everyone else who cites that article. Reread it, and you will see that he never says that HTML 5 will not be “completed” until 2022. It is nearly feature complete now, and it is headed fairly quickly to “Last Call”. The 2022 date is for HTML 5 to become a W3C “recommendation”, which requires a set of conditions to be met that HTML 4 has not met yet (even though its been “set” for 10 years) and neither has HTML 3. These conditions include two full, 100% tested implementations. Given the depth and breadth of HTML 5, 2022 is a fairly realistic date to see that.


Simon Mackie

Thanks for the comment and the explanation, Justin. I agree that my “fully complete” comment is probably a little flippant (although for most people, “fully complete” would mean Recommendation, no?)

If you read my Pro post (unfortunately only available to subscribers), I hopefully explain a little more clearly.

anonymous coward

You could always update the article with accurate information. Or do you reserve accuracy only for your subscribers?

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