Sunday, 6 June 2010

Widget Technologies and Distribution

The above diagram summarises the situation with Mobile widgets, the phones/operators they can be run on and how they can be distributed.

Nokia WRT runs on all Nokia S60 phones, although you generally should have a different UI layout on Nokia S60 Ed5 phones (the touch phones). Ovistore accepts these widgets for download for free or for selling. There is currently no concept of signing this widgets. WRT also has a quite detailed API which allows the widget to access the address book, location through GPS, the camera and photo gallery and much more. Joining Ovi store costs €50 and Ovi shares 70% of the sale after operator charges with the publisher. In general this typically works out as ~50% of the selling price because many of your customers will be buying the apps through operators.

Samsung have Touch Wiz widgets for their touch phones and the new Bada phones. They have an appstore called SamsungApps where the apps can be downloaded or sold. Apps have to have a unique ID placed inside the config.xml file. There is no fee for joining SamsungApps. It is possible to sell apps with Samsung, but you have to go through additional proof of who you are to get accepted for selling apps.

Opera Mini 5 announced the capability of Opera widgets a month ago. However, it's release seems to be associated with certain operators and its being released as a result country by country. Currently its not available to the UK and so I cannot see who it works. However, the desktop Opera browser 10.5 for PC does work with these widgets and works well. Note it was also released for the Mac but it does not seem to work even though earlier versions for Mac did work.

The Joint Innovation Lab (JIL), which is owned by Vodafone, China Mobile and Softbank enables widgets for a number of Vodafone devices. Principally this has been for Vodafone360 M1 and H1 devices, but Voda seem to be announcing the imminent release of support for some Android devices and the S60 devices using Opera's widget manager. Submitting apps through JIL is free, although it you want to charge for your apps then you need to purchase a certificate.

I said earlier that I consider iPhone and iPad capable of widgets according my own definition of a widget. There will be a later detailed post describing how to do this using an HTML 5 features called the Application cache which allows apps to install themselves on the device. So these apps can be run on the iPhone and iPad and if you wrap them in native code they can be distributed from iTunes; again a future post will detail how this is done.

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