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6/4/2010
04:38 PM
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Apple Blocks Competing Browsers While Promoting 'Standards'

The company's new HTML5 Showcase shows a company hobbling the competition to promote its technology.



In keeping with its effort to promote HTML5 as the future and to cast Adobe Flash as the past, Apple on Friday launched a new series of Web pages called "HTML5 Showcase."

HTML5 is the emerging standard for next generation of Web pages and applications. It remains a draft specification and isn't expected to be finalized for years.

Apple has been promoting HTML5 as an alternative to Flash, which company CEO Steve Jobs has spent the past few months deriding as slow, power-hungry, insecure, ill-suited for touch-based devices, and deleterious to the progress of the iPhone OS platform.

Inside Apple's iPad: FCC Teardown Photos
(click image to view gallery)
Inside Apple's iPad: FCC Teardown Photos

Apple's crusade against Flash continues in its HTML5 Showcase with its observation that HTML5, as a standard, isn't an add-on to the Web (like Flash).

Adobe has challenged Jobs' claims and has partnered with Google to bring Flash to the company's Android devices as a way of vindicating its technology.

Apple's HTML5 Showcase features demos of various HTML5 capabilities related to audio, video, image presentation and transitions, typography, 3D imagery and virtual reality.

"The demos below show how the latest version of Apple's Safari Web browser, new Macs, and new Apple mobile devices all support the capabilities of HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript," the company says. "Not all browsers offer this support. But soon other modern browsers will take advantage of these same Web standards -- and the amazing things they enable Web designers to do."



Curiously, Apple has chosen to block some of the other modern browsers that it suggests don't support HTML5 to the extent that its Safari browser does. Click on the demos using Google Chrome and you get the message, "You'll need to download Safari to view this demo. This demo was designed with the latest Web standards supported by Safari. If you'd like to experience this demo, simply download Safari. It's free for Mac and PC, and it only takes a few minutes."

In fact, the demos work just fine on Chrome, if you access the versions published on Apple's developer site. According to Apple pundit John Gruber, Firefox will also work if you use a utility to make it misreport its identity as Safari.

Gruber, who tends to be sympathetic with Apple's line of reasoning, takes issue with the company's approach.

"I don’t have a problem with the fact that some of their demos take advantage of Safari-only features -- why not show off Safari's leading edge capabilities?" he said in a blog post. "But it's wrong that a site promoting 'standards' blocks browsers that are capable of rendering certain of the demos."

Opera blogger Haavard K. Moen notes that Apple's HTML5 Showcase doesn't actually include much legitimate HTML5. Only the audio and video demos actually qualify as HTML5 code, he claims.

"Most of their demos seem to have got nothing to do with HTML5, as a matter of fact," he said in a blog post. "One almost gets the impression that 'HTML5' is just a buzzword to Apple."

According to HTML5test.com, a Web site set up to evaluate the extent to which Web browsers support HTML5 elements, Safari (4.05) scored of 115 out of 160.

Google Chrome (6.0.442.0) scored 142 out of 160 (the stable channel 5.0 version may be less). Firefox (3.6.3) scored 101.

Opera, Internet Explorer 8, and the RC build of Firefox 3.6.4 weren't immediately available for testing.

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