Category Archives: User Experience

Advantages of Open Web Apps

Open Web Apps are essentially no different than standard websites or Web pages. They are built using standard open Web technologies — HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. — and can be accessed using a Web browser. The main differences lie in their ability to be installed on a device and work offline, and access to advanced APIs that allow interaction with device features such as the camera, address book, and other such things. In addition, they are built on open technologies as much as is possible. Where differences lie in technology implementation between platforms, efforts should be made to ensure that both are supported, through a combination of feature detection and appropriate code for different platforms, and graceful degradation.

Lets look at the advantages of Open Web Apps in a little more detail:

  • Local installation and offline storage: Open Web Apps can be installed on the device, and leverage APIs such as local storage and IndexedDB to provide local data storage capabilities. In addition, open Web technologies tend to have a much smaller footprint than native apps and can generally be updated atomically rather than having to install a complete new package each time theres an update. an exception to this is packages apps, which require a whole new package when updating. Apps are therefore less dependent on an always-on Web connection, and more useful when networks are patchy.
  • Hardware access: The metadata provided with Open Web Apps can be used to grant the application permission to privileged APIs that enable usage of device hardware features, something the Web platform has not traditionally enjoyed.
  • Breaking the walled gardens: The norm for mobile platforms tends to be be walled gardens written with proprietary technologies, so apps are locked inside their platforms. And smartphones tend to be expensive, and require credit cards for app purchases. Open Web Apps tend to be able to run on much cheaper hardware, especially in the case of Firefox OS devices where youve literally just got Firefox running on top of a lightweight Linux kernel. And they are written using open Web technologies, which is the most distributed platform around. In addition, Firefox OS devices feature payment systems where you can simply prepay for apps, or add the cost to your phone bill.
  • Open Web App stores: Following on from the previous point, you can choose to host your apps in an existing marketplace such as the Firefox Marketplace, or host them somewhere else entirely. Its up to you. Mozilla aims to put the developer back in control of every aspect of the app experience — from easy development to distribution to direct customer relationship management. And the apps can be searched for just like any other Web-based experience.

via MDN.

Google says its latest PageSpeed modules help render pages up to 2x faster, particularly on mobile devices

As part of its mission to speed up the Web, Google today announced the latest beta versions of its mod_pagespeed and ngx_pagespeed modules add new optimizations that result in a big performance bump. The company says it is seeing pages rendering up to 2x faster, particularly on mobile devices.

The jump comes thanks to new PageSpeed optimizations (the first two) and existing PageSpeed optimizations (the last two):

  • prioritize_critical_css finds the CSS rules that are used to initially render your page.
  • The critical image beacon identifies the images that appear on screen when your page is first rendered and uses this to guide lazyload_images and inline_preview_images.
  • defer_javascript prevents scripts from running until the page has loaded.
  • convert_jpeg_to_webp reduces the size of images that are downloaded by webp-capable browsers.

via The Next Web.

AppSeed Turns Your Sketches into App Prototypes

It’s one thing to sketch out an idea for an app, but turning it into a working digital design is another story.

AppSeed makes that entire process much more seamless. Take a photo of your drawing — making sure to capture the image within the app’s specific markers — and let computer vision do the rest. The app turns your sketched-out features into user interface (UI) elements such as a map or street view and even input text.

This eliminates any extra steps, such as coding. When you designate one section as input data, for example, AppSeed brings up the keyboard function on your phone. According to the project’s Kickstarter page, it has already surpassed its goal of $30,000 Canadian dollars.

The app uses the OpenCV library, an open source database that houses more than 2,000 algorithms. Co-founder Greg Goralski learned how to use the library “from scratch” and primarily uses match template and find contour, both of which help the app identify individual elements in sketches. So far, the app can handle a number of details within the sketches.

It doesn’t automatically produce a finished app, but it does help streamline the process of testing out ideas. Rather, AppSeed is intended to give users a sense of the final product.

“The goal of this app is to speed up that initial brainstorming and testing phase at the very beginning of the project,” Goralski told Mashable. “It helps with that initial part where the idea of the details of the project aren’t set in stone but you know exactly what you want to go and build. Then you want to go through a development process to make it complete.”

via Mashable.