Adobe, Intel want in on Famo.us mobile app magic

Famo.us is providing its Apache Cordova refinements to Intel and Adobe to improve mobile apps overall

Famo.us is the outfit that took its HTML5-powered display engine and set out to make Adobe PhoneGap, the cross-platform mobile app system, into yesterday's news.

Now it's taking the Famo.us Wrapper, its mobile app cross-platform delivery solution, and collaborating with Adobe and Intel to improve each of their respective mobile app delivery systems.

Adobe PhoneGap is built on top of the Apache Cordova project, whose limitations have given Android developers fits. Android apps that use it are saddled with an antiquated "Web view" or HTML5 rendering engine, typically the one packaged with whatever edition of Android is currently running.

Because those rendering engines are only updated with Android itself, they tend to lag in development, and the apps that run with them suffer performance problems. In response, Famo.us has bundled a late-model copy of Google Chrome's Web view with each app, delivered through its solution.

Similarly, Crosswalk developed by Intel wraps mobile applications with the Chromium/Blink Web engine. Like the Famo.us wrapper, the Crosswalk runtime can be shared between multiple applications on a single system, but unlike Famo.us, it doesn't use Cordova. However, it supports Cordova's APIs to encourage developers already familiar with that platform to use Crosswalk.

Famo.us CEO and founder Steve Newcomb claims the main motive for working with Adobe and Intel was to improve the environment for wrapping mobile apps from the inside out. "We offered a collaborative partnership [to Adobe] to make Cordova better," said Newcomb, "and we just kicked off that collaboration two weeks ago. We always want to be at the tip of the spear offering developers the best now, and also commit to open source to make all the wrappers better. We're not trying to get a revenue relationship or a deep strategic partnership -- just integrate with the existing communities that's out there."

Loren Beer, a computer scientist at Adobe, made similar points about how the cross-collaboration was meant to work. "When the [Intel] Crosswalk team had a solid product," he said, "they talked with us and presented their work along with a proof of concept. It's been a collaborative effort to make the best use of these technologies as they emerge."

Newcomb stated his concern wasn't to cash in on these collaborations, since Famo.us has long plannedto monetize its products through its analytics services, testing suites, and in-the-cloud building and delivery mechanism. The latter is meant to allow a GitHub-hosted project to be automatically pulled into Famo.us's build system and packaged for inclusion in an app store.

The field of app wrapping is larger than these names, though. Ludei has a competing app-wrapping system compatible with PhoneGap/Apache Cordova projects, though created mainly for games. Newcomb points out that Ludei's solution has three discrete rendering components -- one for the DOM, one for the HTML5 Canvas layer, and one for WebGL -- that don't interact directly with each other. Famo.us and Cordova, he stated, bundle all three into one package.

This article, "Adobe, Intel want in on Famo.us mobile app magic," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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