PhoneGap 1.0 - the smart way to create apps?
Written by Ian Elliot   
Monday, 01 August 2011

PhoneGap, an open source framework. extends the HTML5 environment so that it can make use of mobile services and facilities in a platform-independent way. It's  the easy way to create native apps using non-native code.

The big advantage of an HTML5 app is that in principle it can run on anything that has a compatible browser. Their big problem is that generally they can't make use of anything special offered by the platform they run on.

This is where PhoneGap comes in. It is a framework that extends the HTML5 environment so that it can make use of mobile services and facilities but in a platform independent way. The good news is that it is open source under an MIT license.

It takes the HTML5 app and wraps it in a runtime which handles the native APIs. Think of the wrapper as a sort of custom browser that runs you app and makes it look like a native app.  There is a new service which will perform the "wrapping" in the cloud - PhoneGap:Build. This currently in beta and free but it could be used to provide some revenue in the future.

PhoneGapIcon

After a long beta phase PhoneGap version 1.0 has now been released and this makes it all the more attractive to base real mobile apps on. It currently supports six device types and app stores - iOS, Android, BlackBerry, webOS, Bada and Symbian. The list of improvements in version 1.0 include:

  • Overall API stability and “pluggable” architecture
  • W3C DAP API compatibility
  • Contacts API
  • Remote debugging tools

The idea is that using nothing but HTML5, CSS and JavaScript you can access the native APIs on each phone using a uniform framework. For example, you can access the Accelerometer, camera, compass, geolocation and so on. Not every platform supports all of the native APIs. In most cases it is just a matter of not supporting earlier versions of an OS but there are some more important omissions. For example you can use the camera, compass, file, media or storage APIs with Windows Phone 7. The good news is that both Android and iOS (3GS or newer) support all of the APIs.

 

You can get a general overview from the PhoneGap promo video:

 

     

More Information

PhoneGap

 

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