Will Apple Web Development Patent Create a New Tech Revolution?

A newly-published patent application from Apple, Inc. reveals what may be plans to remake yet another sector of the technological world. 

Web developers have many tools to streamline production of websites, and many purists stick with bare-bones text editors and image manipulation software like Adobe Photoshop, but myriad others use "WYSIWYG" (What You See Is What You Get) web editors like Adobe Dreamweaver, Realmac Software's RapidWeaver, KompoZer, or one of many Open Source projects. However, Apple appears to be designing a competitor for cross-platform web development, and it may be time for current players to take note.

In the 1990s, Apple was a has-been whose continued existence depended on investments from its former rival Microsoft. With a $150 million investment in Apple, and with founder Steve Jobs having recently returned as interim (eventually permanent) CEO, Apple began what can only be described as the most incredible comeback the commercial world has ever seen.

Apple's first truly revolutionary product debuted in October of 2001: the iPod. While there were other MP3 players before it, the iPod (originally FireWire-only) put everything together in an easy-to-use package that was not only simple, but fun to use. After the MP3 player market exploded, Apple capitalized on their massive market share by selling music, and eventually movies and TV shows through their media distribution and organization software, iTunes.

In 2007, Apple again tackled a crowded market in a daring
 yet phenomenal attempt at another electronic revolution with the announcement of the iPhone. While "smart" phones and mobile devices had been around for several years, Apple again combined ease of use and a "fun" factor with top-notch hardware to create a device that has left an indelible mark on the mobile telecommunications industry. Even today, with the market producing a new "iPhone killer" every other week, Apple still ships more smartphones than any other device manufacturer in the world.

In 2010, the release of the iPad resulted in an unending queue of competitors. The 9.7" touchscreen device, like the iPhone, parted with almost all physical buttons in favor of interactive on-screen elements. Now in its third iteration, and offering both WiFi-only and 3G/LTE models on multiple carriers and around the world, the iPad has become almost a household term for any tablet device, including those of Apple's competitors, including tablets running the Andriod OS and Research In Motion's PlayBook.

Apple's newly-published patent application for a cross-platform web development software appears poised to likewise change the face of web publishing, like its iTunes Store did to the mobile software and media publishing industries. 

The new patent includes designs for a template system, similar to the now-defunct iWeb software included in Apple's iLife suite. However, the new patent expands the functionality to include an extensive library of JavaScript functions as well as intuitive "widgets" to control CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), something that many other web development software has lacked.

 More interestingly, the JavaScript options described by this patent application include much more

complex possibilities than simple pop-ups or mouse-overs; from Cover Flow-style widgets to a carousel form for selecting options. This new software would open up many new possibilities for web authorship.

(The attached images show examples of these new web authorship tools)

Considering Apple's track record with creating easy-to-use software and devices, this new patent application could portend a revolution in the web-dev sector. 

At the same time, Apple also has a few hiccups in its software past, such as the much maligned (and bloated) iTunes or the user backlash that resulted after Apple overhauled their professional video editing software Final Cut Pro, but chances are good that Apple's software engineers can produce a piece of software that's both easy to use and full-featured, and like most of Apple's current pro apps, it most likely won't break the bank.

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James Street

Personally conservative, ideologically libertarian, politically anarcho-capitalist/agorist. Happily married, father of two, with a wide range of experiences and knowledge.

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