“One App to Rule Them All” Move by Europe

It’s inevitable that some sort of standardization will eventually come to the world of Apps …

A new European project, kick-started by 22 European companies and organizations aims to develop an application development environment that will work across all platforms by providing a web-based approach, according to the BBC.

The move which is backed by €10M in funding, aims to create apps that would work on any device from Internet TVs to smartphones and tablets.

There are some big names behind the project too including Telecom Italia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and the World Wide Web Consortium.  It is being led by the German Graunhofer Institute for Open Communications Systems (Fokus).

The move would be very welcome with consumers and reminds this commentator of the introduction of the C programming language, which also came with claims at the time of unifying code across platforms.  It was relatively successful in this regard, but now companies such as Apple have moved to different language and instruction sets and are forcing developers to use specific development tools for their own platforms in the name of security and stability.

“The problem is the extreme platform fragmentation,” said project lead Stephan Steglich.  “We have a lot of different platforms that apps run on – the iPhone, Android, Symbian – and that’s only on the mobile side. If you extend that to include the automotive part and consumer electronic area you have more platforms,” Dr Steglich told BBC News.  

“Companies can afford to have an app on two or at most three platforms – they’re extremely costly to develop and ensure the user experience.  “That’s what we want to address – to provide a system that runs on all these platforms and domains, where the developer comes up with one application for one platform and lets you run it on all these devices – mobiles, automotive, gaming, and so on.”

There is really little reason why modern operating systems cannot allow programs written for different platforms, and using different tools and languages, to run effectively.  This is doubly relevant as we are now beginning to see examples of virtualization demos on smartphones and as the mainstream processors become fast, powerful and cheap enough to accommodate this.

The move aims to develop web apps that will work across these platforms.  ”The greatest common denominator among all these devices is the web browser – that’s the only thing people can use to accept the same content,” Dr Steglich explained.  This will enable cross-platform compatibility and slash development costs.  Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 9 beta software is demonstrating how web apps can look and be treated by an operating system as though they’re installed on the computing device itself.

The move isn’t without its critics and many believe it won’t get off the ground, but it will be welcomed by consumers and app developers alike and, sometimes, that’s just enough to create a critical momentum.

© Mike Halsey for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to del.icio.us, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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