The front page of Techmeme this morning links to several articles debating the nature of the iPhone OS. On the one hand the App Store makes for a closed environment. On the other hand, publishers and developers are not tied to the App Store and can still create content for the browser. Apple is weighing in with its own gallery of demos showing off the capabilities of HTML5 with examples of what developers can do outside the App store paradigm.
The debate reminds me of an encounter I had back at The Cable Show last month. Comcast head honcho Brian Roberts made a splash showing off an app designed to be used as a guide interface for your Comcast TV services. Everyone assumed the application was for the App Store because Roberts ran his demonstration on an iPad. However, cable reporter Todd Spangler and I got the real scoop later that day over in the exhibit hall. The Comcast application is actually a website. It doesn’t include video in the first iteration (commercial release is scheduled for later this year), but there was some allusion to the fact that it easily could in the future using HTML5.
There are a number of interesting issues with the Comcast “Xfinity Remote,” notably the fact that it connects to an EBIF app on set-tops and is being positioned as a way to get around the limitations of current cable EPGs. However, for the purposes of today’s debate, it’s a good example of what can be accomplished on Apple devices beyond the App Store. I’m looking forward to a hands-on test in the coming months.