Nokia N9. HTML5 WebKit2 Browser

    Hi, habrauzers!

    Not so long ago, we announced the release of the new Nokia N9 smartphone . Today we would like to elaborate on the mobile browser of this device. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that this is the first mobile browser developed on the WebKit2 engine and having extensive support for HTML5.


    The browser in Nokia N9 is the first of mobile browsers built on the WebKit2 engine. Few people know, but Nokia was the first company that in 2007, almost immediately after the official announcement of WebKit as an open source project, released a browser for the Symbian operating system (S60 platform) based on WebKit. Now this browser is still used in Nokia, Samsung, LG phones.

    The main difference between WebKit2 and WebKit is the use of several processes for processing and rendering data. As the developers themselves write, it really looks like how Google Chrome works, with the only difference being that a similar process splitting model will now be built into the framework. Which is a plus for those who will use WebKit2 to render pages in the future. The technology, which uses separate processes to display various page elements (JavaScript, HTML, layout, etc.), has improved the stability and speed of the Nokia N9 web browser.


    283 - the Nokia N9 browser scores so many points in the compatibility test with the HTML5 standard (in the latest test version of the software, the figure increased to 297 points). For comparison, Firefox 4, Opera 11.50 and ChromePlus of the latest version gain 272, 286 and 327 points respectively. Agree, for a mobile browser, the result, at least, is not bad. Moreover, when you consider that we still “won” one desktop browser.

    In this video, you can see the test results on the example of Nokia Developer's Kit (N950).

    A reasonable question arises: why did the prevailing Flash platform prefer the new HTML5 standard? If you answer in one word, then the whole point is in perspective. Reading various articles on Habr, it is impossible to form an unambiguous opinion on how strong HTML5 positions are now. But, it seems that most still give the palm in the future for HTML5. There are several reasons. Including the fact that Flash is a proprietary platform, and HTML5 is the W3C standard, which allows you to run HTML5 documents in any modern browser on any compatible device. In addition, developing HTML5 web services is easier than creating native applications. Well, suffice it to say that already in Adobe and Google they were worried about the possibility of converting SWF to HTML5 .

    HTML5 Applications

    HTML5 tools allow you to create applications of almost any level of complexity. Take, for example, Angry Birds (no, the light did not converge on them like a wedge, but as an example for us). Something similar can be done for the mobile platform using HTML5: multimedia books and comics, RSS readers, social media clients, task and purchase schedulers, various time killers and more. At the same time, the web application will be able to determine on which device it is running (using the user-agent browser) and adapt its interface to the required resolution by trivial replacement of CSS style.

    By the way, OS MeeGo on Nokia N9 allows you to add the icon of a web application developed on HTML5 to the device menu directly from the browser. From the menu, the application or game can be opened locally on the device. At the same time, traffic transfer is minimal: if updates have appeared on the server, then the application will download them, if not, then everything will be limited to this request only. At the same time, the session cache can be stored on the device until the latter is closed. This means that the application has the ability to run on the device even without an active connection. For example, by launching the application and opening a wi-fi session in the airport waiting area, you can continue to work autonomously throughout the flight.

    Well, for those who are familiar with Qt, there is an additional feature - hybrid applications. The Qt framework contains the QtWebKit module, whose classes allow you to embed a full-fledged WebKit browser in your application, display websites and local HTML documents. With QtWebKit, a developer can use a web document as a GUI application and even implement JavaScript logic. Moreover, it is possible to access Qt objects from JS and vice versa, as well as embed Qt widgets in a rendered HTML document. Thus, a web application can access the system and get the same capabilities as the native one. Such hybrid applications are no different from regular Qt programs and, on a par with others, can be promoted and sold through the Ovi Store. Qt5 plans to use WebKit2 and V8 (instead of JavaScriptCore), with full HTML5 support.

    Present and future

    How to make friends mobile browser and HTML5 sites? Currently, not many resources work on HTML5, even less - they optimize the interface and content for a mobile browser. We communicate with all the largest resources in order to change this situation. The bottom line is that we will give a user-agent, by which sites will determine the device and give the page already optimized for this device. Just like, for example. To do this, in most cases, just add UA to the list of HTML5-compatible mobile browsers already supported by the site.

    What we wanted to say with all of this. First, we are optimistic about the future. Into the future of HTML5 and mobile browsers. Moreover, this is not only about the Nokia N9 browser. Partial HTML5 support is already available in the Symbian Anna OS browser (there will be full support in the future). Nokia is also working with Microsoft on the Windows Phone Mango OS browser to improve its compatibility with HTML5. Secondly, HTML5 is a story not only and not so much about sites, but about web applications that can be easily ported and installed locally on mobile devices.

    We want all the benefits of HTML5 to be available to our users now.

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