With a myriad of Web-related specifications out there—too many for most developers to keep track of—it’s hard to say which covers what. But one initiative, called the Wholesale Applications Community, has taken on the task of specifying Web-based technologies for mobile devices, with the intention that they will become standards over time. The first fruit of this labor is the WAC 1.0 specification.
Introduced this month, the specification ensures that an application can best use the capabilities on a mobile device that supports it. In addition, “Developers can start modifying existing Web applications, or write a widget that can get onto devices as a direct alternative to native applications that developers may write for Android, iPhone, etc.,” said Tim Haysom, director of marketing at WAC.
The WAC is an alliance of telecommunications companies committed to building a common application platform.
Prior to WAC 1.0, “[the initiative] took various specifications from the W3C and saw there were particular capabilities that were missing in terms of access to capabilities like camera, contacts, calendar, location, etc.,” Haysom said.
For that, WAC took the input that came from work done on Joint Innovation Lab and Open Mobile Terminal Platform BONDI specifications for Web widgets to ensure compatibility across platforms, and used them to create the WAC 1.0 specification.
However, with WAC’s acquisition of JIL assets in October, “A lot of what we’ve done has come from JIL,” Haysom said. “There are devices that support JIL specs, and therefore it was very easy for WAC to use work already done by the vendor community and by developers to make sure we can demonstrate the reality of WAC.”
WAC, also a member of the W3C, will continue to produce specifications not specified in existing standards and submit them to W3C to be formalized into a standard, but not before making sure the specifications are implemented through our vendors and operator members, he added.
Aside from creating specifications for the developer community, the consortium also provides an operational business for developers to submit their widgets to the WAC platform for testing and deployment to 26 operators (such as Softbank Mobile and Verizon Wireless) connected to the platform. All WAC technology is Web-based, explained Haysom, so all WAC 1.0-compliant devices will have a Web runtime to ensure the deployment of widgets, regardless of operating system or device.
“When storefronts are launched, the widgets can be sold to a number of different storefronts that are connected in WAC,” he added. This feature will launch in February 2011 at the World Mobile Congress.
WAC was founded in February at this year’s World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain. It announced this week that it has gained 32 more members, including operators, vendors and OEMs. According to Haysom, WAC now has 48 members.