This week saw the launch of Chrome Web Store. Of course, it was Apple that first brought the concept of apps into the mainstream with software-like experiences on their range of mobile devices. Google is trying to do the same across Chrome browsers and their new operating system. They have started off, not with their mobile platform though, but with the desktop, an area which is a much harder nut to crack. This will soon move to mobile devices firstly in the form of new netbooks powering their new Chrome OS. Synchronisation within Chrome means all applications and local user application settings will transfer to all a user’s other devices creating a seamless experience from work to your home computer to your netbook on the go. Google has an exciting vision of the future (worth watching when you have a spare 1.5 hours).
Each web app is either free (and as found with several applications can be opened standalone on another browser anyway), paid for (using Google Marketplace), or pay per content within the app (E-commerce web apps for example). All currently installed apps show up in your default new tab (that is if you haven’t overridden the default in your settings). Each app can be opened in a new tab or a pinned tab. While a lot of apps are essentially just links that install bookmarks and have local storage capacity in Chrome, you could feasibly convert any website into a Chrome app with a relatively simple setup, the web store is designed for web apps which really want to harness the power that Chrome provides such as advanced HTML5 and CSS3. There are currently some really great HTML5 apps in the store such as Amazon Window Shop and The New York Times Chrome App.
So how about those users who still use older browsers? Well they will continue to get the standard ‘Web 2.0’ web experience, but there is now a significant push for developers to start to create unique web experiences for their users that do have the latest browsers and devices. After all there is no point in having this technology available and not using it. It only stints growth in the industry.
HTML5, CSS3 and company are here, here now, and we must use them. Or else, what’s the point?
Memolane is a lovely new web app I played around with recently that trawls through your social history and displays it in an interactive timeline. It has one or two nice features, such as the ability to open Last FM scrobbles directly in Spotify. It will be interesting to see how this data will be used in future, especially if they are releasing an API to all of this data. Could produce some pretty amazing mashups. Memolane is in beta, but you can use the code ‘scobleizer’ to register.
I was asked recently to review the Android application WorldCard Mobile, which enables you to quickly convert your business cards into contacts.
On opening the application, you get a simple choice of two main options. Either selecting an existing photo from your SD card, or taking a photo using the phone’s camera. I feel the space is a little wasted here and could have some tips, or other advice on the home screen. However, the interface is generally slick, and very easy to use.
Selecting the camera icon will give you a simple camera mode where you can take a photo of your business card or other printed contact information. The application the tries to create contact details from the photo using OCR techniques. In the most part it did a pretty good job of correctly identifying the separate phone numbers, address details, email addresses and name information. I tried a few different cards and it was around 98% accurate. In the 2% of times where it doesn’t get it bang on you can always go in and edit the information.
Once you are happy, then simply tapping ‘Export’ will save that contact to your list.
There are a few features that would take this application forward in my opinion:
- The ability to scan handwriting. On testing myself this didn’t seem to work, so would be good for times when people quickly scribble down their contact details when they don’t have a business card.
- Being able to voice input your contact details
- Being able to merge the details into an existing contact on your phone.
WorldCard Mobile is available now on the Android Market.
A small tip I picked up yesterday while developing a HTML email for a client. If you are testing in Hotmail using a browser other than Internet Explorer, you may notice that the email seems to left align and doesn’t display any background colours or background images the full width of the window. This is because Hotmail’s email container only stretches to fit the width of your most outer table defined with a fixed pixel width.
There is however an easy CSS fix as picked up by Email Center. Simply place the following css in your header:
HTML5 Canvas programming opens a world of possibilities for animation and rich interactive experiences natively within the browser. Programming the raw code though can be time consuming. Processing JS is a port of the Java Visualisation language and I had a stab at making a simple animation myself.
Here is the code and demo
Another very neat tech demo using the visual recognition intelligence behind Microsoft Kinect.
DepthJS from Fluid Interfaces on Vimeo.