Apps will bring social back to the Art World – ArtSpotter.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from the runner-up winner from AppCircus in London, the person behind ArtSpotter is Raphaëlle Heaf who is a local London art lover and enthusiast, I first saw her mobile application during [email protected], she did not take part on that mobile showcase. We exchanged ideas and discussed how she realized Art needed a big push in the mobile space, so she hired a couple of developers to create what is ArtSpotter. So I leave you with her perspective on her industry and how mobile will change it.

Art has always been a leader in changing and challenging the modern world, yet it fell behind in the digital age and while we are encouraged to participate face to face with art work, the utilization of technology to engage the viewer seemed non-existent – until now.

As a medium, art allows us to open our minds and question the society we live in.  It generates debate and provides a reflection upon the modern world and art has a way to evoke our emotions, sometimes without us even realizing it.  Somehow art lost out when the digital age arrived but now it seems there are several players looking to bridge the gap.

From Google’s Art Project to ArtFinder and Art.sy, any company that deals with the art world knows about the complications and hard work it takes to drive adoption of a new technology.  Each initiative is helping to change the way we interact with art and encourage more people to understand the impact and importance art has.

It’s not just about the apps which allow us to find the artist within or share moments with some artistic licence (Instagram, Path and alike).  Many of the startups are now allowing users to discover art at the click of a button/touch of a screen, create personal collections and understand the wealth of history art encompasses.  Others, such as ArtSpotter and Exsibit are looking to engage the user with what’s going on and utilise the opportunity to help people discover new art spaces. Some, for instance TurningArt, allow users to bring the art to their own home, while there are the ones like DigitisedArt who are ensuring art is catalogued and recorded with more metadata than ever before.  Together the tech world is bringing their passion for art and creating products that will allow users to easily find the art they love as well as help recommend something they didn’t know about, each one with some unique attribute to support the arts.  They are all allowing users to engage and participate with the art world through the use of social technologies.

Where previously it was only the established art attractions (Tate, MOMA, Guggenheim) that had drawn in the sponsors, there has recently been more interest in the smaller art startups, with some well-known angels investing along side some of the top VCs.  I’m sure we will see even more startups emerging and there is still room for a variety of technology and apps to be developed.  The art world can benefit from more than one of these products and indeed the range of art will always bring different opportunities.

In building these products, businesses need to look beyond simple commercially-driven agendas and ensure they don’t stifle or exclude any part of the art world.  It will be in the ability to create solutions that cater for everyone, from the major museums to the commercial gallery and even the lone artist studio, that will determine which of the startups will be the real winners.

AppCircus Conversations: The future of Web is on HTML5

This is a guest post in our “AppCircus Conversations” series: views and opinions by industry experts on platforms, technologies and business insights on the App Economy . We encourage to participate to the discussion and share your ideas and experiences on the topics we’ll feature. If you have a great developer story, insight or case study you’d like to share with our community, please contact us.

The future of Web is on HTML5

It´s no coincidence that all of the big mobile manufacturers and internet players are investing and pushing a lot of HTML5 technology. We are talking about Google, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Microsoft, Opera, Nokia, RIM, Samsung and several other players that are moving to support and leverage HTML5. What’s happening? Essentially we are seeing a new chapter in the Internet history. The mobile web environment is changing user behavior and requirements. The traditional PC, where users used to go for web surfing, to use and organize their documents, to play games and applications is no longer the center of the computing experience. By 2013 it’s expected that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the device of choice for surfing the web and that is the primary reason that technology leaders are now focusing their interests in HTML5 technologies.

From now on the center of the computing experience will be mobile devices; which include smartphones, tablets, TVs, cars, appliances and several other devices. This huge growth of mobile web access will require user files, games and applications to be readily available anywhere and anytime. In a nutshell, the new user experience is leading towards mobile cloud computing. A very interesting post about mobile cloud computing growth expectations has a lot to say on the topic. Soon your apps and contents will all be in the cloud and you can get, use or play anywhere, anytime. This is where HTML5 comes in! This new web standard allows for the creation of a richer user experience and far more powerful applications on the web than we previously have had. With HTML5 developers have access to resources that were once available only for native applications.

What’s HTML5? Abstract reflections on the HTML5 began in late 2003. In the 2004 Web Consortium (W3C) expressed interest in the draft of HTML5, developed by the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG). As a result, in 2007, the development of HTML5 specifications was formed by the W3C HTML Working Group. It´s expected that HTML5 will reach the status of W3C Candidate Recommendation in 2012, even though most of the browsers already have partial support for HTML5 specifications. The main benefits of HTML5 already supported by browser today are:

  • Offline Support — The AppCache and Database make it possible for mobile developers to store data locally on the device and now interruptions in connectivity will not affect the ability for someone to get their work done.
  • Canvas and Video — These two features are designed to make it easy to add graphics and video to a page without worrying about plugins.
  • GeoLocation and Accelerometer APIs — This is actually not part of HTML5, but is a separate specification. That said, it is often bundled together because the mobile phones that are including HTML5 are generally supporting the GeoLocation and Accelerometer APIs.
  • Advanced Forms — Improvements in HTML5 for forms help make life easier for mobile applications.

Take a look at the recent Google I/O session “HTML5 status update” to see what is coming in the near future (camera access, voice recognition, microphone access, positional audio, WebGL, etc).

With the recent HTML5 hype there is plenty of debate about whether to develop in HTML 5 vs. a native app. There are a lot of great HTML5 apps already available, but the user experience is still generally better with native applications. In light of this the playing field is changing and we are seeing better and more advanced applications. Hardware, browsers and technology are evolving rapidly, and HTML5 applications will soon be on par with native applications. Devices like the iPad2 and all the new dual core tablets are already breaking ground with advanced graphics acceleration, faster Javascript engines and high performing processors.

Even though today’s distribution of applications is highly concentrated in Apple App Store, with time this advantage will be reduced and there will be a variety of strong contenders with the ability to distribute and monetize apps. According to research Ovum Mobile Application Download Forecast, the Apple App Store share on app distribution will be reduced from 67% in 2009 to 22% in 2015. In this context, the HTML5 apps will leverage the web eco-system for distribution, discovery and monetization. It has already begun with Zeewe, a HTML5 App Store operated by Movile, where it is already possible to have Push Notification, In-App Billing and Social Discovery. There’s been a tremendous growth with HTML5 Mobile Web Apps that use those resources. That’s why top players like Mozilla (https://apps.mozillalabs.com/) and Google (Google Chrome) have also entered the fold and are helping to build the future of mobile application development.

Flávio Stecca
CTO of Movile. Developed one of the pioneer HTML5 environment and app store, www.Zeewe.com.