HTML5 is the keyword today and there’s no escaping it. The whole web is talking about it and few of us have little idea of what it is and what it means for the end user. The web has evolved over the decades from being very dull, boring looking to now delivering a very colourful, interactive, realtime experience – not just on desktops, but also mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Other consumer electronic products, such as televisions aren’t too far away, either. In this feature, we’re going to quickly introduce HTML5 to you.
What is HTML5?
It is the future, or at least that’s what the experts are claiming it to be. The traditional definition of HTML is HyperText Markup Language and it was first made in the early 90s and it’s developed since then to HTML4 and lately to HTML5. HTML was, and is what makes up the web page, it’s what lets us format text, add images and hyperlinks to other pages. As a student in the past decade, at some point in time, you’d have been introduced to it.
HTML5 is a whole new ball game, offering a whole bunch of new features. Traditionally, media in the form of images, videos and audio were completely different objects, all overlayed on a web page. There’s also SVG support, which simply means sharper, clearer vector graphics as part of HTML5. In HTML5, all of this media that we talked about is put together – that’s just the tip of the iceberg, though.
How is it related to Flash?
Before HTML5 came along, the only way to integrated sound, video and interactability was to use the popular Adobe’s Flash platform. This has been quite a massive success over the years and everything from desktops to tablets and even televisions have the Flash environment integrated. Microsoft has a similar, less used and less known solution – they call it Silverlight.
Adobe Flash – soon to be replaced by HTML5?
Adobe Flash was available for devices as a plug-in and it’s worked rather well for most parts. The biggest drawback to the end user has been performance and compatibility.The plug-in has either not been available for all platforms or the apps and pages designed around it haven’t offered identical functionality or performance. HTML5 comes in to replace Adobe Flash offering pretty much all the features, across all supported platforms.
As a user, what are advantages of HTML5?
HTML5 has a whole long list of advantages. There are a few that stand out, though. For one, you no longer need to install a plug-in to view content. HTML5 is supported by browsers, so any browser – be it on a mobile, a PC, a laptop, or a TV that supports HTML5, it will support all HTML5 content on it. The same content we consume on a tablet will be on a smartphone or a PC. This flexibility and compatibility across platforms is both great news for users and developers, alike. HTML5 tends to be much lighter than Flash plugins as well. In the case of mobile devices, where resources are limited, HTML5 can really boost performance. Netbooks, too should see some amount of performance boost.
Which browsers support HTML5?
There are plenty of browsers that support HTML5. Most recent browsers on Android support it, so do the Apple Safari browsers on the Macs and all the iOS-based products. Here are some of the desktop browsers that support HTML5 that you should check out before trying out some of the demonstrations given below.
Internet Explorer 9
Internet Explorer 9, the default browser on Microsoft Windows supports HTML5. The last stable build – Internet Explorer 9 supports HTML5. If you haven’t tried it out yet, head over to our IE9 download page and get it now. The browser has got more secure over the years and it’s still the most used browser on the web. If you’re using an older version, HTML5 is one of the biggest reasons to upgrade.
Google, the popular search engine is also a major supporter of HTML5. Their Chrome browser has gained momentum over the years and it’s now the second most popular browser, behind Internet Explorer.
Mozilla Firefox came to light as being a very secure browser and it’s been recommended by many to others. It’s only recently that their domination came under attack by Google’s Chrome browser.
The Opera browser may not be the most popular one around, but they have been known for offering some of the most unique features. Opera also happens to be the pioneer of HTML5 and have been the ones behind the concept.
Is there HTML5 online?
There are plenty of sites serving HTML5 content and many of them have already started to move away from Flash. You’ll notice many sites based on HTML5, but if you want to get your hands on some demonstrations. Here a few that will get your attention.
Microsoft – Beauty of the Web
Microsoft has set-up a site that demonstrates various aspects of the HTML5. It’s called the Beauty of the Web and there’s a new revamped version of the site, up already.
Microsoft's Beauty of the Web demo page
It offers the same experience as you would have using Silverlight and Flash, but it works on pretty much any modern browser. Microsoft would recommend using using Internet Explorer 9, but you can use any browser on a smartphone or a tablet. The demonstration uses HTML5 to show you all of the key features of Internet Explorer. Simply scroll and the page does the rest.
YouTube in HTML5
YouTube – in HTML5
YouTube has been a popular video hosting service and it’s been around for ages. There have been advancements – better quality videos, tagging, and so on. There have been native apps for mobile devices and some users even use the Flash player, but one of the biggest complaints. To check out the HTML5 player for YouTube, head over to www.youtube.com/html5. You’ll need to subscribe to the feature, though.
Apple’s HTML5 Gallery
Apple showing off real-time image manipulations using HTML5
The Apple HTML5 page offers a quick look at a bunch of content – everything from photos to movies, offering real time effects to it using just a browser. The same demonstrations can be viewed on any HTML5 capable browser. There’s also a 3D view of one of the iPod Touch PMPs.
These demonstrations just go on to show that HTML5 has the capability to do everything that Flash has been able to. Of course, HTML5 is still being worked on, and browser developers are making sure that they’re each capable of handling all the additional features as they come. HTML5 isn’t just limited to web pages – it can also be easily used as applications and that seems to be the direction in which things are headed. Future devices based on any operating system might use HTML5 apps.