While many of these technologies were present in some browsers on some platforms before 2012, we believe 2013 will be a break-out year for some new capabilities in desktop and mobile browsers. Many new technologies that were once the domain of developers willing to test and experiment with the latest browser versions will soon be ready for prime time. Here are a few we think are important…
Client-side Data Storage
Especially on mobile devices, the ability for the browser to store data while off-line will be important in allows web apps to behave much more like native platform apps. Using this capability, web apps can live on the device, gather data when off-line, then relay it to a server once they become on-line again. We see huge potential in this for data collection, lead generation, surveys, and other apps where users can enter data any time any where, and then benefit from having it uploaded to a central server seamlessly whenever they are connected.
Most modern mobile browsers allow the use of these features. There are a few competing standards, it’s not clear whether WebSQL, Web Storage, or the Indexed Database API will ultimately gain acceptance.
3D In the Browser
If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of WebGL. Here at the end of 2012, almost all desktop browsers support WebGL (except Internet Explorer). WebGL is coming soon to many Android devices. For iOS, it’s already possible for those who wish to experiment, and anticipated in a future release.
Using WebGL, web pages can access your video hardware’s built-in accelerated 3D graphics rendering capability. This means faster, more detailed, animations, and an experience that more closely resembles that found in games and native apps.
To see more, treat yourself to a look around the excellent Chrome Experiments.
Touch and Multi-touch
Since mobile device use increased sharply, mobile browsers and web standards have been struggling to keep up with the transition from mouse and pointer based input to touch and gesture based input. Browsers have evolved to handle touch events, then more recently multi-touch events. Now web development frameworks like jQuery and D3 have caught up and make it easy for developers to create multi-touch and gesture aware apps. Like many of the other technologies mentioned here, this allows us to get closer to the native app experience using familiar and portable web technologies.
Try the multi-finger bubble popping fun of KoalasToTheMax.com.
Audio in the Browser
The next frontier is audio playback and manipulation in the browser. Google’s Chrome currently has the best support, with most other browsers lagging far behind. Development of web standards for browser audio are still in the draft phase, hopefully to be finalized soon.
To give a taste of what’s to come, check out the WebAudio Drum Machine .