The web is a huge place, it’s moving at such a pace it’s a science just to keep up with it. However, most people don’t get the opportunity to see what is happening behind the scenes. In this blog post we hope to provide an insight in the developments in the Web that will take shape in the next year.
This one has been coming ever since Steve Jobs announced the iPhone on stage in January 2007 and proclaimed that the web is better without Flash. For those who do not know, Flash is not part of the web itself; it’s an additional program that needs to be installed on a user’s computer. Historically many security vulnerabilities stem from it and it no longer performs well - but the main complaint is that one company (Adobe) controls it. Developers want the web to be an open place where everybody speaks the same language, because it means everything works on everything for everybody.
The HTML5 and CSS3 languages largely replace what Flash can do. Because all modern web browsers support HTML5 and CSS3 out of the box, there’s just no need for Flash anymore. With Adobe already announcing the death of Flash for Mobile, and creating new professional-grade HTML5 tools it is a fair guess that 2012 (or early 2013) will see the death of Flash on new website developments.
YouTube is probably the biggest user of Flash, and they have started work on an HTML5 version. Likewise, Google Maps Street View has recently started the move from Flash to WebGL.
Only a few years ago, the web was a relatively slow window on your computer. The average user went on a couple of times a week to check their emails, look up a fact or two and read up on the news. Today super-fast broadband allows us to watch TV shows, video chat with family around the globe and share pictures, thoughts and ideas with just about anybody. Some people even do their weekly-shop exclusively online.
Along with the speed came the first stage of the diversification of the web. The dawn of smart phones has shown that people no longer just want to sit on their computer to view the web. They want to get to it wherever they can. Increasingly we are going to see Internet enabled devices come into mass-awareness; devices such as Apple TV and Google TV will allow people to download apps and view the web on their big screen television and tablets sales will continue to rise.
The idea goes even further than that, though. 2012 will start to see the adoption of the so-called “Web of devices” - where everything can be connected to the Internet and controlled remotely. Google announced their entry into this area with “Android @ Home” earlier this year. It is a project that will allow Internet connected ovens, thermostats, lightbulbs and pretty much anything else you have in your house or office. An example of the benefits of the WoD would be to imagine you’re 20 minutes away from work, your phone’s GPS sees that there is a B&Q 5 minutes away and knows that one of your lightbulbs is about to run out so it suggests you to pick one up. As you get closer your phone tells your thermostat to turn the heating on so that it’s nice and warm by the time you get in.
This is stuff from “Tomorrow’s World” years ago, but now it truly is just around the corner.
For this next section to make sense, the difference between the Internet and the Web must be made clear. The Internet is the network of connected computers all over the world - the (World Wide) Web is a system that runs on the Internet. This means programs such as Skype aren’t actually part of the web itself - but instead part of the Internet.
And Skype is a perfect example of why hardware support on the web is useful. It would allow for video-chatting by simply going to Skype.com on any computer, mobile device, TV (maybe even your cooker!) without having to install anything. Skype have to develop on Windows, Linux, Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Nokia, etc. With the web, they would only need to build it once. Other hardware that will be supported includes game controllers, microphones and printer/scanners.
Applications are already wildly popular on the web. Google Docs is a free office suite that competes with Microsoft Office. Instead of saving to your computer it saves to the ‘Cloud’ (which is really just a fluffy [that’s a pun] name for The Internet). This means you can get to it from any other device connected to the Internet without doing any additional work such as emailing it, burning it to a CD or copying it to a USB memory stick.
If we shift everything to the Web (and Internet), then the need for fast computers and huge amounts of memory dramatically drops. Computers can become tiny terminals that just speak to a super-computer on the Internet to do all of the hard-work. The technologies are all coming together, so in the next 12 months we’ll start to see more applications move from your computer to the Web. Infact, Windows 8 is largely built on web technologies and Samsung/Google already sell a web-only laptop computer, “The Chromebook”.
The web is about to boom. For small-business websites, it’s business as normal for the foreseeable future; the way sites are built will improve but the functionality will largely stay the same because it works. However we will start to see a lot more traditional computing tasks shift to the web such as video games, office applications and professional media tools.
If businesses think being online is important today - just wait until tomorrow…