Thursday, January 22, 2009

What is the Mobile 2.0 project about?

This is the first post of the Mobile 2.0 project blog at the Mobile Life Centre. The project aims to explore the next generation of mobile services and applications. What follows is a short presentation of the project.

The market for mobile devices is fragmented and there are many barriers to development and deployment. At present, it is difficult to create efficient and attractive mobile services that make use of advanced capabilities of modern terminals and servers, such as absolute location, sensors, near-field communication, proximity of other users or services, etc. We call these Mobile 2.0 services, since they represent as much as a quantum leap from current mobile services as Web2.0 represents from the original World Wide Web.

In this project, we envision a new type of environment where advanced mobile services run on a common platform, similar to a web browser on traditional computers, but with added capabilities for the mobile domain. We want to make it easy for creative actors to create new services quickly, making mobile service development more like web design than application development. We also want to make it possible to distribute services to a large number of different services, and thus achieve critical mass.

We are approaching this problem from two angles: first, by prototyping a set of examples of Mobile 2.0 services based on a variety of different platforms and technologies; and second, by creating a standardized environment for rapid development of such services. We have prototyped a number of example services, including native applications, Java applications and completely web-based mobile services. The applications use a range of technologies, such as location awareness and local sharing. They cover various media and domains, such as photography, chatting and social awareness. We are now going to user test these services and deploy them to a wide range of users. This work will help us understand and hopefully address some of the problems that are currently facing developers when trying to reach mass-market.

Furthermore, we are developing an environment that will make it easy to develop advanced mobile services as it already is to create advanced web services, and builds on the expertise of web developers and interaction designers. This requires a standard that is closer to HTML and existing Web development tools such as Javascript, Flash and Ruby, than the advanced development environments of iPhone and Android, or web add-ons like Google Gears.To this end, we are now in the process of specifying a Mobile Markup Language (MML).

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