If you’re a web developer, all the HTML5 talk of the past year or so most likely gets you pretty excited. I won’t go into the details and specs of HTML5 because chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re familiar with what HTML5 has to offer and all the great things that are coming with it.

I sat in on a couple HTML5 sessions at the Future of Web Design Conference in New York a couple months back and while it’s all really cool and exciting, I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated thinking that the technology is at our disposal, but it could be a few years before we can really utilize this for our clients due to the legacy Internet Explorer browsers out there that are incapable of handling modern technology on the web.

HTML 5 and the Mobile Web

Then I started thinking about HTML5 and the mobile web and got excited again………

In the mobile world, Internet Explorer is non-existent. The majority of smart phones consist of the iPhone and its Android-based counterparts. Fortunately, we have two of the most forward-thinking technology companies in the world backing these products. Google and Apple are making great strides in pushing HTML5 into the mainstream and it’s likely that we’ll see HTML5 take off more quickly in a mobile context than on our desktop computers.

Up to this point developing mobile sites has felt a bit like developing web sites 10 years ago. We just don’t have access to the full array of web technology that we rely on today. jQuery, Javascript and Flash are either poorly supported or not supported at all, depending on the phone you’re using.

Mobile technology is advancing at a quicker pace than desktop browsing, and the turnover rate of a smart phone is quicker than that of a personal computer, which keeps software and hardware modern and current as people upgrade their phones every 2 or 3 years.

So What will HTML5 bring to Mobile?

There are a lot of advantages that HTML5 will bring as it becomes the standard for marking up pages. Here are a few of the biggest ones. Of course, these will apply to traditional sites that move to HTML5, but these are especially big for mobile developers.

The Canvas and Video tags

The Canvas and Video tags will allow us to easily integrate rich graphical and video content into a page without the need of additional plug-ins. Flash isn’t natively supported on the iPhone, but as HTML5 becomes the standard for presenting video on the web, the Flash dilemma becomes less critical.

GeoLocation API

GeoLocation has been built into smart phones for awhile now. You see it integrated all the time with mobile apps, but support for integrating this feature for web-based apps and mobile sites isn’t there. HTML5′s GeoLocation API will open GeoLocation up to mobile developers across the board.

GeoLocation will add a whole new level of interactivity and personalization to mobile web sites. Here are a few examples of what you can offer through GeoLocation:

  1. Display points of interest, relative to a users current location. This could be restaurants, clubs, tourist attractions, etc.
  2. Provide turn-by-turn route navigation, such as directions to and from a location.
  3. Show the users location on a map, such as a dynamic “You are here” feature on a mall directory.
  4. Location-tagged status updates in social networking applications. Think web apps like GoWalla, FourSquare, etc.

Those are just a few key features that should get mobile developers and marketers excited about HTML5. Spend some time getting acquainted with them and stay ahead of the curve. I think HTML5 will be a key component to the advancement of the mobile web.

~mswanson, Mobile Specialist, Mindscape at Hanon McKendry