Tomorrow, the Browser is King

The browser that you are using now will have a much bigger role in the future. How big you may ask? Well how about the browser taking over much of the roles of the operating system!  The browser will also have a much more pervasive presence and a much broader functionality. Read on and find out if you agree with much of the things being said here.

Because the browser will be used in a lot of contexts, experts are saying that the user interface will become more innovative. For example, browsers will be used in cars, from navigation, to selecting radio stations, and playing music stored somewhere in the cloud. In this setting, taking your hands off the wheel to manipulate the browser is dangerous. Innovations in the user interface, like the use of gestures and speech recognition will become commonplace. Although some form of speech recognition already exists, expect something more sexy and sophisticated in the years to come. Sophisticated cameras and motion sensors make it possible to communicate to the browser using gestures.  For example, those who are reading newspapers on the browser of tomorrow will simply have to wave their hands across the browser’s screen, mimicking how readers today flip pages on books and magazines.

Similarly, tomorrow’s offices will have a tabletop display with icons representing documents and folders. These documents do not reside in some computer in the office but they are stored on a server somewhere on the internet. Office workers still need to use a computer though but they won’t be using stand-alone software like word processors and spreadsheets in order to start working. Instead, the browser knows what web-based application to use for each type of document much like how Windows or MacOS knows what software to open when a file is double-clicked.  Actually, web based applications that act like spreadsheets and word processors already exist. Google Docs is one example and Microsoft already knows the impact web based applications will have. This is the reason why the Redmond based software giant is rushing to develop Microsoft Office Web Apps.

There is one hurdle that needs to be overcome in order for cloud based computing to prosper. There is a need to once and for all adopt a standard. Microsoft is famous for eschewing such standards. Most web savvy users shun Internet Explorer and use standards compliant browsers like Firefox, Google Chrome, or Apple Safari instead.

Steve Jobs of Apple is adamant on the adoption of HTML 5 as the carrier of web based content. He argues that since video will become data native to HTML5 much like how text and images are in the present version of HTML, there is no need anymore of embedding software like Adobe Flash in order to play back video. He says that HTML 5 compliant browsers will become more efficient. Jobs is right in saying that Flash based video playback is a drain on lightweight devices like netbooks and smartphones.

A developing standard called WebGL makes it possible to play sophisticated games on the web.  Playing and distributing games will become highly simplified. There won’t be any need to install games, what users need to do is to click on a link, and presto! They are in the midst of a massively parallel 3D game along with thousands of other gamers.

In the future, applications will run inside browsers similar to how software runs in operating systems such as Windows or Linux. The web will become pervasive and will be used in ways that will surprise the savviest of users.

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