HTML5 Based Mobile OS and the Future of Video Phone Apps

by Gal Nachshon

FirefoxOS-logo_610x385 copyIt was nine years ago, during the W3C workshop in 2004, that Mozilla Foundation and Opera Software proposed, and has been rejected for, their desire to continue and develop HTML with a focus “on developing technologies that are backwards compatible with existing browsers.”

A few months later, unwilling to budge their admirable ambition, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple began working on the evolution of HTML “under the umbrella of a new venue called the WHATWG.” In 2007, after much work and development led by WHATWG, the W3C showed signs of interest and formed a working group chartered to work on the development of what came to be HTML5 specification. By the time HTML5 became the hottest trend in application development, mobile became the hottest trend in user consumption. Therefore, it was just a question of time that the two would marry. Especially since HTML5 offers new levels of innovation for mobile developers.

As of last month, February 2013, Firefox – the web browser from the house of Mozilla – has lunched its’ first HTML5-friendly mobile OS in Europe. The low cost, sub-$100, smart phone is now presenting a new challenge to Apples dominance over the smart firefox OSphone market. The new device, ZTE-made, is built on a open Web standards meaning “that every aspect of the device – including even the phone dialer – is built as an HTML5 application.”

Firefox claims that such an approach will allow faster performance than the HTML5 typically used on Android or iOS devices “where web apps have been often seen as inferior to native apps on those platforms.” Furthermore, Firefox OS “also gives carriers the chance to customize and localize those interfaces and services – including apps – as they choose, a level of flexibility they cannot have with iOS or Android.”

All of these rich features offered by Firefox OS are achieved through its flexible base of HTML5 and web applications, and like wise is Kaltura’s. As seen on the right, a Kaltura HTML5 player smoothly fits Firefox OS display screen without augmentation and faults. It is this bed of APIs upon which the Kaltura player is based on that provides a wide range service across all operating systems such as Firefox OS, but also iOS and Android SDK alike.

Kaltura’s HTML5 full featured player, however, is one of the fastest html5 players in its class, and as a recent study indicates, web viewers start dropping if a video does not start to play within 2 seconds or less. Hence, performance is key for retaining viewer engagement, but likewise is the design.

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With Kaltura’s Dynamic Embed HTML5 player, a more flexible embed call allows for  changing run-time parameters easily, set up custom callbacks, and target a given DOM element in a page. The embed will inherit CSS classes and attributes of your DOM targets for robust Responsive Web Design support (sample page). This is critical since HTML5 is integrated into so many new form factors as with the Firefox OS phone.

The use of HTML5 enables the Kaltura player, as well as Firefox OS, to have a universal and flexible reach in today’s mobile world amongst many others whom picked up on the hot trends of HTML5 combined with mobile. Based on a recent global developer survey by Kendo UI, out of 5,000 developers, 36% preferred pure HTML5 implementation for all platforms, yet right behind them, at 32% of developers prefered hybrid apps that are developed in HTML5 code wrapped in a native container per target platform. This shift toward HTML5 is not surprising for not only does it give better end-user results, it also allows rapid development of apps.

For as a result of working per platform, instead of multi-platform via HTML5, 39% of developers spend time developing the same app/feature for multiple platforms instead of generating new ones. This workflow is time costly and impractical for the end user, who therefore has to wait long periods of time for upgrades on his mobile device OS and apps. Yet  HTML5, by developing apps across all platforms, generates a unison functionality with copious and flexible options to guarantee equivocal experience on any device and encourages effective future development.

We all appreciate the flexibility, robustness, and Mozilla’s ambitions to make HTML5 a first class citizen ever since 2004. However, until the day HTML5 will become a global standard, Kaltura still aims to support the best possible experiences in all environments such as iOS, Android, alongside HTML5. Therefore, Kaltura is also building native tools for experiences that can’t normally be delivered over html5 yet due to DRM, such as and adaptive streaming on Android, in order to achieve true universal reach today.

 

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