Facebook has announced an initiative that aims to create standards, or at least guidelines for mobile web apps. Facebook, of course, has a huge stake in this as it pushes its mobile web platform.The idea is to come up with a set of standards for the mobile web aimed specifically at apps that mobile browsers would implement.
The hope is that with these standards in pace, mobile apps will work the same regardless of the platform and the device while also being able to leverage features and capabilities only available to native apps so far.
"We're proud to be joining over 30 device manufacturers, carriers, and developers in an industry-wide effort to help accelerate the improvement and standardization of mobile browsers: the W3C Mobile Web Platform Core Community Group," Facebook announced.
Facebook is making a bold move with a mobile platform based on the open web. It competes with native platforms and markets such as the App Store or the Android Market.
But it's a significant disadvantage since the mobile web is far less capable than what's available to native apps. This is what keeps developers from embracing the web as well.
Facebook believes there are three main hurdles for developers to start creating mobile web apps rather than native ones, app discovery, mobile browser fragmentation and payments.
It says it's helping with the first, with its mobile app platform. But it's putting together the new W3C community group to work with developers and others interested in the space to come up with "prioritized, tiered lists of emerging and de facto standards" as Mozilla's cofounder and CTO Brendan Eich describes them. Mozilla is part of the new initiative as well, though it's led by Facebook. Opera and Microsoft are on board as well.
"Facebook has hired long-time Open Web developers who have risen to be leaders in their communities: James Pearce and Tobie Langel," Eich wrote on his personal blog.
"So I encourage everyone interested in helping to join with James, Tobie and others in the new Core Mobile Web Platform community group. Together we can get the specs that Web developers deserve, completed in the right order with multiple interoperating implementations," he added.