Chapter 12. Widgets and Offline Webapps

Mobile websites can run like native installed applications on any platform. This technique is present today in every vendor’s roadmap, and many devices are already compatible with some kind of solution for this.

The mobile community hasn’t settled on a single name for this kind of application yet; some platforms call them “widgets” and others “offline applications,” “JavaScript applications,” “mobile web applications,” “HTML 5 apps,” or simply “webapps.” I personally like the term “mobile widget,” but there is no common agreement on this yet. The only disadvantage I see of using the term “widget” is that it is always related to a small application, and as this platform evolves we may prove to be underestimating it.

All that said, to simplify our discussion of this kind of application in this chapter, from here on out I will refer to them as widgets (call it the power of the author).


The W3C is working on some recommendations for mobile web application development, available at

Alex Nicolaou, Engineering Manager at Google Mobile, said this in the Google Mobile blog about mobile web application design:

A growing number of mobile devices ship with an all-important feature: a modern web browser. And this is significant for two reasons:

  1. As an engineering team, we can build a single app with HTML and JavaScript, and have it “just work” across many mobile operating systems. The cost savings are substantial, not to mention ...

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