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Kindle Cloud Reader and Vudu: The Promise and Pitfalls of iPad Web Apps

iPhone to Support Third-Party Web 2.0 Applications
Innovative New Way to Create Applications for iPhone

WWDC 2007, SAN FRANCISCO—June 11, 2007—Apple® today announced that its revolutionary iPhone™ will run applications created with Web 2.0 Internet standards when it begins shipping on June 29. Developers can create Web 2.0 applications which look and behave just like the applications built into iPhone, and which can seamlessly access iPhone’s services, including making a phone call, sending an email and displaying a location in Google Maps. Third-party applications created using Web 2.0 standards can extend iPhone’s capabilities without compromising its reliability or security.

“Developers and users alike are going to be very surprised and pleased at how great these applications look and work on iPhone,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “Our innovative approach, using Web 2.0-based standards, lets developers create amazing new applications while keeping the iPhone secure and reliable.”

Doesn’t that feel like a press release from another era? It is.

As everyone who knows anything about the iPhone and iPad knows, developers and users turned out not to be that surprised or pleased by Web apps running in Safari. But when Apple opened up its mobile operating system to true third-party apps in 2008, it set off an explosion of enthusiasm that hasn’t stopped.

There have always been some excellent Web apps for iOS–Google’s ambitious versions of Gmail for the iPhone and iPad spring to mind–but the vast majority of companies that have attempted to build something great for iOS have chosen the flexibility, power, and responsiveness of native apps over the open standards and cloud-based capabilities of Web apps. Which makes this week a notable one for iOS Web apps.

Today, Amazon.com released Kindle Cloud Reader, a browser-based version of its e-reader that works in Safari on the iPad (and Safari and Chrome on Windows PCs and Macs). It give you access to all the Kindle books you’ve bought, has a similar look and feel as the Kindle app, and includes a built-in version of the Kindle bookstore. (Amazon’s iOS Kindle apps deal with Apple’s new rules for in-app purchasing by serving only as readers, not online bookstores.) Cloud Reader’s arrival comes a day after movie-streaming service Vudu launched an entirely browser-based version which can deliver movies to the iPad, no app required.

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