HTML5, the latest version of the Web’s underpinning language, has been in development since 2004 and, although not finished yet, is starting to affect the way the web works. We look at some of the best features of HTML5, specifically the ones already on the way to users’ desktops.
Until recently web-based video relied on Flash, Adobe’s rich media language. But HTML could put an end to that with its own native video tag. In HTML 5 it is not only as easy to embed a video in a website as it has been to embed an image – using just one tag – but it also opens the way for a host of additional features. Using the HTML5 video tag developers can embed videos without third-party codes and manipulate the videos in real-time. A demonstration of HTML5′s video capabilities can be found here.
HTML5′s geo-location capabilities are already being included in many popular browsers. The geo-location features allow users to share their current location with the site they are visiting. The feature uses a combination of GPS, WiFi, IP address and Bluetooth to determine the user’s position. Typically this is more functional on mobile devices with built-in GPS or location-aware hardware. There are many opportunities for geo-location-capable browsers, including customised search results, location-specific maps and listings and a host of others. Users have to actively give permission to a site to obtain their location to prevent against abuse. A geo-location example can be found here.
Offline storage is a lot like Google’s Gears except without needing a plugin. Gears first introduced the idea of storing data locally so that applications could continue to work even when disconnected from the network. Offline storage is also like seriously beefed-up cookies, with significantly more storage space. This means that anything from user details to email can be stored locally and used by web applications.
Local file access
Local file access is likely to be at the heart of future web applications. This new capability allows web-based applications to access and manage files stored on a local hard disk. This means that users won’t have to upload files to a remote server before being able to manipulate them. For example, a photo management application could be used to manipulate an image stored locally, or even view thumbnails, without needing to upload the image first. The potential in this is significant as it paves the way for web applications to behave the same way as desktop-based applications and making browsers more like an application platform than simply a web viewer.
Most of the examples above will only work on relatively new browsers. For other examples have a look here.
Best of HTML5 << Discussion