Mozilla starts work on project WebAPI, wants to make your phone’s native features accessible via HTML5

Mozilla, the browser vendor that many credit with providing the first real viable alternative to Internet Explorer back in 2003 with “Phoenix”, which would later be renamed to Firefox, has announced that they’re starting work on a project called WebAPI. The goal is to “have consistent APIs that will work in all web browsers, no matter the operating system” which will give developers access to things like the contacts on a device, the camera, the dialer, the ability to send and receive text messages, the device’s current location, and other such features that have traditionally only been accessible via native APIs. If this sounds familiar to you then you probably read our article on “Boot to Gecko”, Mozilla’s goal of making an operating system that will be built on what will essentially be WebAPI.

We highly applaud Mozilla’s efforts and hope that one day we’ll reach a point where the user interface of a mobile phone can be altered as easily as visiting a website. There’s no reason to lock people into a design paradigm that a company has dictated as being the sole way you should interact with your data. Calling, texting, taking photos? Those can all be done via a web application, which again doesn’t need to be locked into a browser window. Palm’s webOS was written entirely in HTML and JavaScript, so why can’t anyone do the same thing if you give them the right tools to build said interface layers?

Of course there’s a huge difference between theory and practice and it’s not surprising that Apple’s Objective-C programming language, which requires develops to use the archaic art of managing memory allocation, is used to create first class games that drive people to the iOS platform.

Maybe one day that isn’t going to be the case.

[Additional reporting via: Ars.Technica]

  • This is all good, but security must be a priority.  Opening up more of your phone’s features on the web can potentially lead to a lot more attacks and will add to a growing list of mobile security issues.  If they are able to tackle that properly, then this will indeed be a leap in the mobile web app world.

Back to top ▴