Web-apps promised to make native mobile applications a dying breed. But, with web-apps requiring a constant wireless connection and the need to run within a mobile web browser, native applications are still running strong. But, with the iPhone 2.1 OS, Apple has taken the first step to making web-applications just as powerful and convenient as natively installed mobile applications.
A little-known feature has apparently been rolled out with the iPhone 2.1 OS update, enabling users to use web-apps in full-screen mode without firing up their iPhone Safari browser. The iPhone has offered the option of saving a web-app as a homescreen icon (Add to Homescreen), and even allowed for the bookmarking regular webpages as homescreen icons. But, with iPhone 2.1 OS, web-apps can apparently be saved to the homescreen and can be run independently of Safari.
Only web-apps coded to take advantage of full-screen web browsing can launch on its own, without the need to initiate the Safari browser. Web-apps running in full-screen mode work and feel just like the native iPhone applications that you would download through iTunes AppStore, but will work a bit more sluggishly as the web-app pulls down wireless data over your data-connection.
Want to check out the full-screen web-app mode? Try this:
- Fire up your iPhone’s Safari browser
- Navigate to “http://webapp.net.free.fr/Demo/Index.html”
- Save the webpage/web-app to your homescreen
- Hit the “+” button along the bottom navigation bar
- Select “Save to Homescreen”
- Go back to your homescreen and fire up the newly saved web-app
- Enjoy using the web-app in full-screen mode with 100% less Safari – Notice the absence of any browser navigation controls (URL field, bookmark button,etc.)
Now that web-apps can be run without the need to fire up the Safari browser, we’re waiting on Apple to enable offline web-application data storage. Web-apps that can run without a browser and work without a constant network connection could very well give native applications a serious run for their AppStore-money.