Applying Cutting Edge Web Design to Android Based Devices

The past few years have brought a number of breakthroughs in web design. One of the biggest changes is how people think about the web itself. At one point it was something which for all intents and purposes could be considered as synonymous with desktop computers. Today, advances in mobile processors and cellular data plans have made the web something which can live on almost any small device. The web lives in our phones, our TV, and almost everywhere we want to be. And perhaps most interestingly, it often comes tied with the Android operating system. On the surface, this might not seem remarkable to web designers. After all, isn’t one mobile platform the same as any other?

webview-appIt’s true that Android and other mobile operating systems can access the web through mobile browsers. What makes Android unique is that it’s both widespread and supports something known as a webview. Webviews allow designers to create full mobile applications using HTML and Javascript. Basically, one can use normal web design methodology to create full blown applications. And these applications can then be distributed through any Android market or store. Some other mobile operating systems, such as iOS, have similar functions. What sets Android apart is that the resulting applications are fast and can feel like a native application. iOS sandboxes applications which make use of mobile design techniques. The result is something which runs far slower than it should. There’s a few reasons for this, but the main issue is just in time compilation. Android allows embedded web content to use JIT compilation for Javascript. iOS and most similar platforms only allow a single browser to make proper use of JIT. And this also includes other applications which tap into the system’s ability to render web content.

In practical terms, Android’s webview can take web content and compile it into native code. Other platforms insist on interpreting advanced content line by line. The resulting performance hit will make many websites all but useless. This situation might change in the future. But at the moment it means that Android is a haven for web designers who’d like to get into mobile app development. There are a few things which the aspiring developer will need to learn in order to properly leverage their web design skills.

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