Mozilla has begun development on an ambitious new project with the goal of providing a single application development environment for modern mobile devices.
The project, named WebAPI, is Mozilla
's attempt at breaking down the barriers between propriety app systems on iOS, Android, and others. Mozilla wants to provide a consistent, cross-platform, web-based API for mobile app developers by allowing developers to create applications in HTML5
This isn't some far-off pipe dream, either: Mozilla has already begun hiring several full-time engineers to work on WebAPI, and plans on finishing the APIs nevessary to "provide a basic HTML5 phone experience" within three to six months, with a submission to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for standardization coming afterwards.
At the moment, Mozilla is looking to develop an API for a phone dialer, SMS, a clock, a camera, games, maps, and others. It so happens that the W3C is already developing
APIs for many of the same things, so one may wonder why Mozilla is pursuing the project; it's possible that Mozilla simply doesn't want to wait for the W3C (what with the stated six month timeframe for development), and Mozilla's project is also part of its larger Boot to Gecko Project
, which has a goal of developing an operating system that emphasizes standards-based web technologies. Mozilla has announced intentions to work with W3C and others involved to "form a good solution, and not just dump it on them."
Mozilla will still need Apple
, and other mobile browser makers to implement the APIs so that WebAPI will be able to compete with native applications, but it's not an entirely foregone conclusion; Apple has previously expressed interest in iOS app development based on HTML applications, and Google is quite obviously interested in web apps.
If all goes well, there should be more news on the subject in three to six months!