09 February 2010

Mobile applications for Nokia phones with... javascript ?!?

A few days ago the lovely folks at NSManchester, an Apple user group, gave a chance to "the enemy" (i.e. Nokia) to present their technology stack and business strategies for attracting developers.

The two presenter were a bit underwhelming (understandable after they went through the usual, hellish experience with British railway services), and there was little talk of my beloved Maemo, but it's hard to dismiss the technology stack they have chosen to go forward. Key element seems to be the QT library they acquired last year, which I know and love through the original Python bindings. It's powerful and as cross-platform as it can be, with a lot of mindshare in the Linux and Windows communities; this said, it's still C++, and it's hard to get excited about C++ these days. Also, the runtime will gradually appear on new and recent phones but probably won't make it to older ones.

The second development platform they are pushing, however, was more of a surprise to me. Apparently, you can use JavaScript to write applications for recent smartphones (S60 5th ed. -- N97 and 5800 -- and S60 3rd ed. FP2 -- e.g. E72, N85, N96 etc). You can access GPS coordinates, contacts and calendar items, as well as having complete freedom to design the UI with standard HTML and CSS. You don't need to sign the resulting packages, the barrier to entry is lowered dramatically. This is potentially a game-changer, and I don't know why Nokia are not shouting it from the rooftops. Early adopters include Netflix, which uses a basic JavaScript interface to stream their Flash content (!) -- so yes, you can use flash as well. My head simply went "boom"; I must look into this stuff.

One other thing I noticed was the presenters' style, typically European: self-deprecation and brutal honesty about things that work and ones that don't. It was refreshing, after weeks of Yanks propaganda from Google and Apple pushing their new gadgets as "fantastic", "amazing", "revolutionary" etc etc etc...

1 comment:

simonokia said...

Sì, confermo, io l'ho "scoperto" ora.
Si può programmare widget (anche complicati) sui symbian 6.0 come se si sviluppassero applicazioni web, e of course ci sono API per interagire con il telefono.
Stavo proprio provando un po' in questi giorni con il nokia 5880.