Location Based Services Without the Cocoa [A3]


The increasing popularity of (smart phone) mobile devices with location sensors such as GPS, compasses and accelerometers has generated an explosion of new location based services ranging from simple navigational maps to augmented reality. Many of the new devices incorporate touch screen inputs heralding new forms of user interaction based on touch gestures. Many web managers will see great potential for enhancing the value of existing content through location aware services, making the content more relevant to the user and bringing together otherwise unrelated pieces of information. New types of interaction afforded by touch screen interfaces will further open possibilities for making content more accessible in a mobile context.

A major barrier to institutions creating location based services is the fragmented technology base and lack of standards in the mobile application market. The arrival of new platforms and languages such as Android, Cocoa Touch and Objective C has complicated an already diverse technology landscape. It is hard for institutions to obtain the necessary skills to support such a heterogeneous range of platforms, especially when budgets are under increasing pressure. In this workshop we will examine the approach to implementing location based services using more familiar web browser technologies such as HTML5 and AJAX, based on our experience evaluating how EDINA services could be brought to mobile devices as part of the JISC funded geo mobile scoping study. We will explore both the advantages and limitations of delivering applications through mobile browsers rather than native app stores. We will give an overview of implementing a native location app using Cocoa (not as hard as you might think) and show the advantages of “going native”. Then we will explain techniques for building rich user interfaces for mobile web browsers using HTML5 technologies such as the W3C geolocation API, Local Storage and Canvas.