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The iPad Needs The Web, but the Web Does Not Need the iPad

By - March 29, 2010

Dale and others have made some good points on what would make the iPad a better development environment, in particular, Dale recalls HyperCard, which was Apple’s version of a weblike development environment, before the Web existed. I covered HyperCard for MacWeek back in the late 80s and early 90s, and I also covered the CDROM market (remember that?).

Both are dead now, and the Web is king.

Dale writes:

What’s missing today is HyperCard, or an equivalent tool that can be used to create a new wave of applications for the iPad….. Making it easy to create content and increasing the number of people who can create applications for the iPad could be very important to its long-term success. The web has made producers of us all. If the iPad is just another consumer platform for consuming and not creating content, then it will just be another way to watch TV or listen to music or download information…

There’s a very easy way for the iPad to do what Dale suggests, and it doesn’t involve creating another HyperCard. It just involves the iPad becoming a world class Internet client. So far, from all I’ve heard, it sounds like it won’t be, and if you want to make anything that works great on the iPad, you have to make it in Apple’s proprietary authoring environment – just as you did for the iPhone. I think that’s a classic Apple mistake.

Don’t bet against the web. You’ll lose.

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13 thoughts on “The iPad Needs The Web, but the Web Does Not Need the iPad

  1. Bertil says:

    Hear, hear! but… Why do you mean by “So far, from all I’ve heard, it sounds like it won’t be”? Apart from Flash that Apple bet would be replaced by HTML5 (a leap of faith towards one possible coming, self-prophecising web) what makes it not too webby?

  2. Dave says:

    I agree with Bertil. Connectivity is what makes the web the Web. And iPhone/iPad apps get all the connectivity they need.

    As a user I appreciate the UI standards that the current proprietary developers platform provides. It makes the apps much easier to learn and use.

    Maybe I don’t understand HyperCard, but seems to me like a cool app to build would be the “build an app” app, the equivalent of WordPress for iPhpone/iPad users. So that users can “publish content” as you mention without having to deal with developer tools at all.

  3. Charles says:

    I don’t get it either. From all reports the iPad seems like an excellent web client. Except for Flash of course, but I don’t disagree with Apple there. Something like the iPad is probably just want the web needs.

  4. John says:

    But Bertil, Dave, Charles, connectivity to a slender thread of a Safari controlled web is not true web connectivity. What about sharing data between apps using RSS, pubsubhub, standard or enterprise APIs, or lord knows what else? If it doesn’t fit Apple’s business model or sense of design, don’t expect it to work. Read Tim’s piece on the Internet OS for more…http://oreil.ly/b2JsXl

  5. Nic says:

    I agree and disagree with you, John. Yes, I wish there was an easier, better way for apps to talk to each other in the background with Apple’s full development tools support.

    There’s too many people confusing the idea of an “iPad Native App” with an “iPad Web App”. Web apps are free to distribute, easy to develop, can use any “trick in the book” that a standards-compliant web browser allows, and DOES NOT have to conform to any of Apple’s stated guidelines for iPad apps.

    Thus, I don’t think it’s fair to call mobileSafari a “slender thread”. It’s the full web, minus flash games. Apple makes no rules about the full web — just the opposite. Developers can even install local databases to an iPhone OS device to help it run faster and more reliably (Google Reader is a great example of this).

    95% of my internet consumption occurs within a browser (on my PC). I don’t think of Firefox or Safari on my PC as a “slender thread” connecting me to the internet. The browser is, itself, the entire pipe to me!

    MobileSafari on the iPad is miles beyond the kind of web experience of IE8 provides (granting, of course, that you’re willing to give up Desktop Tower Defense). And it’s easy to target and code for (using OPEN standards like HTML5 and CSS3!), which makes it something of a dream for web developers like myself.

    I hate Apple’s heavy-handed control of the App Store, but it’s their store and their terms and they can do with it what they will. Their store is decidedly *not* the internet, nor do I think it’s a bet *against* the internet. I think it’s an issue of control (of their own hardware platform) — and I really believe it’s as much about protecting users (from crappy unfinished buggy programs) as it is anything else.

    Is the Microsoft Marketplace for the new Windows Mobile devices a “bet against the internet”? I don’t think so. It’s a business decision. Microsoft created the platform and they’re licensing the use of it to peddle your software.

    Neither Microsoft nor Apple is making a play to own the internet, at least not in their mobile divisions. I think they’re both moving toward ever greater interoperability and open standard support. If anybody wants to own the mobile internet it’s Google — but even they have a vested interest in keeping things as open as possible.

    OK, no Flash. But Adobe Flash(tm) does not encapsulate the future of the open standards-based web! I think you already knew that.

    As a web developer, there’s very little I don’t love about the iPad. If anything it will put the web in more people’s hands, more of the time. I’d call that a gamble “for” the web.

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  7. Pat says:

    I don’ get this post at all.

    The iPad has aggressive support for Web standards. More aggressive than say the dominant browser in the world — Internet Explorer — has. Apple’s Webkit team has always been at the forefront of supporting Web standards. Apple is a big supporter of HTML5, which will bring offline caching to Web apps (think Google Gears).

    Not supporting Flash isn’t betting against the Web, it’s betting against proprietary codecs. Codecs that Apple and no one else can control. Codecs that can compromise the user experience by being malware vectors, being buggy and having poor performance (Apple can make the iPad better at processing Javascript but couldn’t do anything about poor Flash performance).

    The iPad’s native SDK environment makes sense for a lot of applications, especially games and other apps that need a lot of horsepower and control. I have no idea why news organizations are creating native apps because they need cross-platform compatibility. But it makes perfect sense for many companies (think Electronic Arts or Omni Group) to create native applications. Native applications provide a richer experience, but the Web has proven very strong at displaying news and content.

    But it won’t be too many years until we see a lot of rich HTML5 Web apps. The iPad will be able to support all of them.

    So what am I missing about this post?

  8. dbv says:

    Do you really believe that Apple is betting against the web? Thing is that the majority of users of devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad won’t give a hoot about web standards and the like as Apple is giving them what they want plus 100,000′s of Apps from developers.

  9. Pat says:

    Check out Google Reader on the iPhone; it’s better than many native iPhone apps. And you can install an icon on your home screen just like an app, and it looks and feels pretty much like a native app. Because it’s a Web app, it syncs perfectly with the service as a whole, and is a great compliment to using it on a desktop PC.

    Google Reader is the perfect example of where it makes more sense to make a Web app than a native iPhone app. Electronic Arts and other video game makers are the opposite, however.

    Apple is strongly supporting HTML5, CSS3 and H.264. People will be able to make word-class Web apps that work great on the iPad. The biggest challenge will be making touch friendly versions of Web sites, but as more touch smartphones and tablets hit the market, this will be less of a concern.

    Also, not sure why in my original comment I said codec. I meant plugin. This was one of the first things I did today after waking up. At least you got me thinking, but I disagree that the iPad is betting against the Web.

  10. Söve says:

    I agree John.Thanks.

  11. Evangelos says:

    what’s NOT to get in this article? what are a few 100k apps against 10+ billion websites? yes, there is a browser on the ipad, but of course what the ipad tries is to push you in using apps instead of a browser, apps that are created and distributed under heavy control from apple. and, of course, indexed and displayed by iTunes which tries to establish itself as the main content distribution platform in the web. since the web IS the main distribution platform for content, this approach won’t work in the long term, unless apple opens up severely.

  12. Evangelos says:

    what’s NOT to get in this article? what are a few 100k apps against 10+ billion websites? yes, there is a browser on the ipad, but of course what the ipad tries is to push you in using apps instead of a browser, apps that are created and distributed under heavy control from apple. and, of course, indexed and displayed by iTunes which tries to establish itself as the main content distribution platform in the web. since the web IS the main distribution platform for content, this approach won’t work in the long term, unless apple opens up severely.

  13. combs1945 says:

    I found the first great site that talks about how to make an iPad website. it gives detailed information about viewports, flash image swap, and lightview popup.

    http://www.combsconsulting.com/ipad-website-example/

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