Untangling the web
Google kicked-off its annual developer conference yesterday - Google I/O - and the two biggest announcements have the potential to fundamentally change the way we use the Internet.
The first was the announcement of an app store specifically for web (as opposed to client-installed) applications, called the Chrome web store. Initially it was thought that this web store would be accessible only through Google Chrome - which would run somewhat contrary to Google's supposed belief in open standards.
But a subsequent FAQ from Google revealed that, while it will be optimised for Chrome, any browser supporting the ‘standard' web tools the apps are built with should be able to access the store and the apps. Only Chrome will allow you to create shortcuts to these apps, however. Of course you can already get a bunch of Google web apps - the point of this is to create another platform for third parties.
Big announcement number two was the creation, in collaboration with a group of companies, of a new, open standard for web video. It's called WebM and is being described as an open, royalty-free media file format designed for the web. The video codec is VP8 (acquired by Google last February) and the audio one is Vorbis. There's an extensive FAQ here.
There's also extensive support for this new standard, with efficient bandwidth usage being the compelling feature in an era when data networks - especially mobile ones - are under extreme stress from the exponential growth in web video use.
Among the overt supporters of WebM are Mozilla, Adobe, ARM, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. Notable absentees from the initial list of supporters include Apple (surprise, surprise), Imagination Technologies, Intel and Microsoft. The code is already being made available to developers.
The video below is the first part of the first keynote at Google I/O yesterday, where HTML is the topic of conversation. The YouTube tools will allow you to get to the many subsequent keynote videos, if that's what floats your boat.