AT&T is showing some love to HTML5 with a new API platform to enable web apps and an AppCenter app store that will highlight HTML5 apps. The moves help build more momentum behind web apps, which are poised to grow as HTML5 matures.
Developers building HTML5 apps will be able to access AT&T’s API platform to build in support for a range of features. Developers will be able to access APIs for in-app billing and payments, MMS, SMS, location, and mobile-health capabilities through AT&T. Other APIs will be available later this year enabling music, contacts storage, message management, speech and other features. AT&T said it expects 85 percent of all smartphones will have HTML5 browsers by 2016.
AT&T is launching an AppCenter app store on Android phones, so users will have a way to discover HTML5 web apps. The store, which will also support Android apps, will be set up like a “magazine” collection of stories, showing off specific apps and pointing users to different web sites where they can find developers’ wares. This will give developers a way to sell directly to consumers rather than force consumers to delve into crowded app stores.
AT&T’s AppCenter is not a real store that conducts transactions but the initiative is a nice bit of support for HTML5 apps, which are still waiting for their turn in the sun. I talked to AppMobi CTO Sam Abadir in November about the future of HTML5 apps and he was looking forward to the emergence of web app stores that he believes will help accelerate the adoption of HTML5. He told me in November that not just carriers but manufacturers and content companies were looking at launching their own stores.
The introduction of an API platform is also helpful, providing developers with one place to access APIs for their apps. Right now, developers have to often make several business and technology arrangements to access a network’s APIs. But for developers already working on native apps, it’s not clear how many will immediately turn to AT&T for help in building web apps. Still, it’s another sign that while the pendulum is swinging toward native apps right now, we could see HTML5 apps help push the debate back toward browsers in 2012.
Image courtesy of Gizmodo.