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For my first blog post I’ve decided to take a look at what technologies have been interesting me recently in the web and mobile space and whilst my experience with each varies wildly, they’ve all excited me with their possibilities. In addition to giving a quick summary of each tool I’ll also give my reasoning for why exactly I want to dig into them further.

jQuery Mobile

All web developers should be familiar with the open-source JavaScript libraries jQuery and jQuery UI that greatly simplify and extend what is possible with client-side scripting. jQuery Mobile shares the latter’s support for high-level user interactions but instead places the focus on delivering content to phones and tablets through the use of a HTML5-based user interface system.

As jQuery Mobile is markup-centric and functionality such as page transitions are offered automatically, simple and attractive mobile-focused sites can be created by extending the base HTML templates to include a range of touch-optimized widgets and formatted content before applying preset or custom themes. In addition, a collection of custom events that detect mobile and touch specific actions like tapping and swiping are available for adding additional layers of JavaScript functionality.

It doesn’t take an industry expert to appreciate that there are a huge amount of mobile web users with heavy mobile data users predicted to triple to one billion by 2013. As such, delivering a site to mobile devices that is not only functional but competes and even improves on the experience available on it’s larger screened siblings has become a requirement rather than an optional feature. Despite being in its early stages with 1.0.1 being the latest stable version, jQuery Mobile could be a key tool in aiding developers with this task.

Phonegap / Titanium Mobile

I’m grouping these two together as they are both mobile development frameworks that allow the authoring of native applications to multiple devices (iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone) through the use of standard web technologies such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. As with jQuery Mobile their primary aim is to lower the barrier of entry for developers wishing to deliver content to mobile devices. The obvious advantages when compared to writing applications with native languages such as Objective-C (iOS) and Java (Android) is that the majority of smartphone owners can access your application without the devloper having to invest extra time in porting to multiple devices whilst also allowing them to make use of the tools they are most familiar with rather than spending time learning new languages. Whilst there are definitely drawbacks with the most obvious of these being the inability to make use of certain native functionality, it still remains an interesting option for those willing to take a different approach to mobile development.

Open CV for iOS

OpenCV is a computer vision library that includes a huge breadth of functions that range from low-level image manipulation to high-level algorithms such as face detection and motion tracking. Although it can be difficult to install, a framework is available for iOS and the combination of the ubiquity of the device with the feature rich vision library could result in a number novel applications. A quick search reveals all manner of interesting projects and sample code hosted online ranging from visual Sudoku grid ‘grabbing’ to creative uses of augmented reality that make use of the device’s other forms of input such as GPS. Computer vision as a whole is a field I find very interesting and there are a number of ideas I’d like to play with using this as a base.

The continual advances in mobile development tools and the changing shift in the web development community towards a ‘mobile first’ approach to design are currently prevalent themes in the industry. Hopefully in the coming weeks I can invest some more time in exploring these tools and share my progress here.

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