The web on steroids

Tushar Kanwar | Print Edition: December 2011

It's like an old friend, the web. Important to our lives today in ways we can't even imagine, yet it has remained much of the same for quite some time now. There are changes afoot though, that promises to revolutionize the web as we know it. Join us for some crystal-ball-gazing into the future of the Web, wont you?

1) HTML5
You would already have heard of HTML5 , the next generation HTML that contains many new features aimed at building rich application capabilities into the browser. For instance, the Application Cache feature allows sites to save a copy of everything that is needed to run the web application locally. Couple this with Web SQL databases, which allow you to save a local copy of web app data, and you get the ability to continue using the app when you go offline, synchronising with the server whenever the network is made available again. What's more, HTML introduces <video> and <audio> elements for implementing native video and audio players, allowing developers to include video directly in their pages without the need for any plugin-based solution like Flash, etc. Many browsers like Opera and Chrome support large parts of the standard, and new proposals to the standard are being made each passing month. Head over to http://bit.ly/ryh08a to see how much of the HTML5 standard your favourite browser supports.

Don't you think web games and graphics are rather barebones compared to their desktop counterparts? Not for long, with WebGL (an extension of the JavaScript standard) allowing developers to implement interactive 3D graphics within any compatible web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera all support it). Think 3D walkthroughs, 3D product views, games with 3D environments, even Google Maps with 3D buildings right within the browser, all without the use of any plugins - the web code specific to WebGL executes on the computers graphics processor instead of purely within the browser. Want to see what WebGL can do? Head over to http://bit.ly/v0U0Vm.

As the name suggests, Geolocation offers the browser the ability to determine where exactly a user is and allow relevant websites to suggest useful search results that are geographically closer tothe user. Imagine getting into a new town and your web browser promptly points out the best Chinese restaurant closest to you. In browsers that support geolocation, data can be sourced either via the user's Wi-fi access points and IP addresses or via the device's GPS capabilities (if present), or manually by finding one's position on a map.

With roughly two billion people on the Web, and approximately 4.5 billion people with access to mobile phones, more and more people will be accessing the Web for the first time from their mobile phones, possibly as their only device with the means to go online. With it, we will see cloud-enabled browsers like Opera Mini/Mobile and Amazon's Silk (only on the Kindle at the moment) which allow phones with even modest hardware to get online and access information. Such browsers crunch complex web pages on their servers before they send down a compressed version to the mobile device, thus saving on data costs as well.

With books having been around for hundreds of years, the Web is imbibing some basic book features to enhance readability. Take for example the new web standard that allows web documents to forgo the scroll bar and adopt a pageparadigm to content-you simply navigate among them with gestures, swiping left and right to go forward and backward or swiping up to return to an earlier page. Suited to the touchscreen tablets that are back in vogue, paged media will go a long way in applying the aesthetics of book publishing to online content.

(With inputs from industry experts at Opera's annual Up North Web event in Oslo, Norway)

Courtesy:Gadgets and Gizmos

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