AT&T Releases APIs and HTML5 SDK to Mobile Web App Developers

January 13, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

One major concern for AT&T has been the platform fragmentation; the carrier had admitted about the difficulty of making applications that work across the full spectrum of popular mobile operating systems.

While previous development framework failed to unify the mobile application landscape, it has now turned to standards-based Web technologies for solving the problem.

So the carrier is thinking of launching a store for mobile web applications that run in the browser. It has released a set of JavaScript APIs and a software development kit, that provide Web developers with access to certain mobile network features.

The new APIs focus on exposing network service functionality. The API feature set is currently a bit thin, but it includes access to SMS capabilities and also carrier-based billing, which will allow developers to support in-app purchases and add the cost of the transaction to the user’s monthly mobile service bill.

AT&T’s HTML5 SDK is built around Sencha Touch, an interface developed by Sencha Labs for building touchscreen-friendly mobile web applications, and Ext JS.

Sencha offers a standard widget set that allows developers to create mobile web experiences that feel like native applications. Sencha’s framework is very demanding and works best in a top-notch HTML renderer with robust support for modern standards.

Android’s built-in web browser isn’t quite up to the task yet and struggles with some of the framework’s advanced features such as animation. Also, lack of consistency between mobile HTML renderers could initially prove problematic for AT&T as it pursues a cross-platform development strategy.

But HTML rendering implementations are improving all the time and frameworks like Sencha Touch are getting better at abstracting away the differences.

HTML seems to be the compelling choice. What do you have to say on that?

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