Samsung shows off WebCL for WebKit, expect mobile websites to take advantage of your smartphone’s GPU

Ask any mobile developer what’s the current hot topic in the wireless industry is, and he’ll likely tell you the ensuing battle between mobile applications and mobile websites. With the former you can offer a rich user experience that better integrates with the capabilities of the respective platform it’s running on, while the latter can offer cost savings since it’ll be compatible on a wider range of devices, plus it can be updated more often and seamlessly. As much as we like to root for the web, it’s apps that win today, but let’s save that discussion for another day. Samsung, looking to push the boundaries of what a web browser is capable of, recently showed off a demo of WebCL, which lets web developers use JavaScript to issue OpenCL instructions. Why is OpenCL cool? Because there are some instructions that are simply better left for a GPU to execute than a general purpose processor. Said demo was built for WebKit, which powers practically every mobile browser on the planet, and it of course was made open source so that everyone can have a look at it, contribute, and eventually implement it in their platform. It’s said that Nokia is also working on OpenCL, but it’s not compatible with what Samsung built, and right now it’s only meant for Mozilla Firefox.

Advances such as this will eventually render the mobile website versus mobile application a moot point. It’s not like one is going to kill the other, but the share of experiences users will have on a daily basis will move from apps to sites. We’re looking forward to the day when mobile browsers will be able to use our microphones, cameras, and even near field communication chips as input methods. That will make for some interesting interaction between the digital and analog worlds.

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