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Future of Web Apps Conference 2010

The Future of Web Apps conference returned to London this year with a revitalized program. The event is designed to bring pioneering speakers from around the world together in three full days of jam-packed talks, demonstrations, general debate, and specialized workshops.

Curated by the team at Carsonified, the conference provided an insightful peek into the future of web and mobile app development, from both a technical and business perspective.

Each day was split into two tracks allowing a wide range of subjects to be covered, including HTML5, geolocation, W3C Standards, real-time data and social media marketing. Both days were kicked off with motivational keynote speeches from Grasshopper’s David Hauser and internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, with the former outlining his top 30 tips to build a successful start-up business.

Conference highlights included Googler Michael Mahemoff’s HTML5 talk, who showcased some of HTML5’s new technical possibilities. He also took the chance to discuss the forthcoming Chrome App store, giving some insights as to what will be on offer—including in his talk a sneak preview of the new dashboard screen.

The HTML5 spec is positioned as the future for both native and web app development. This was high on the conference agenda, and throughout the two days, participants were treated to live demos of CCS3, Flexbox, SVGs, Canvas and video by a series of speakers.

As well as the more technically focused talks, there was a healthy sprinkle of user experience design sessions mixed into each track. Aarron Walter’s 'Learning to love humans' talk discussed the importance of injecting personality into a product, evident in his work on the Mailchimp UI. He suggested that as well as creating a product that's functional, reliable and usable, developers should also ensure they create an experience that's pleasurable for the user.

One of the hot topics of discussion was 'geolocation' and the recent rise in geolocation-based services. Gowalla's founder and CEO Josh Williams—his site has gained 500,000 members in 12 months—suggested we are only at the very beginning of fulfilling this technology's potential.In his talk 'Moving beyond the check-in', Williams challenged the audience to go and develop new apps that take this technology to the next level. This was a view echoed by Simple Geo's Joe Stump who suggested that app-based gaming is a field that could massively benefit from the advance in geolocation technology.



Ryan Singer from 37 Signals delivered one of the more inspiring talks as he demonstrated an alternative process to app development. His tried-and-tested approach encouraged designers to lay down the code of the basic HTML structure before considering the nitty gritty of the interface design. He suggested that achieving a basic working prototype version as soon as possible offers far more value to a product than spending days tweaking Photoshop designs.

Often with conferences of this type, there is a theme that bubbles away under the surface. Something that when you walk way each day leaves you deep in thought, pondering ideas. That theme this year was undoubtedly 'location'.

It would seem that location-based technology represents the most exciting aspect of app development right now. It's now up to us, as creative thinkers, to figure out—how to take this concept beyond the 'check-in' and 'virtual badge collection' towards meaningful products that make a difference. Food for thought indeed.


This event was attended by TAXI Editorial Correspondent.


Tom Dougherty
User Experience Director, Delete London

Tom leads the user experience team at Delete, working closely with the creative and technical teams to ensure the delivery of successful user focused projects. His work includes projects for Red Bull, Renault, Universal Music, Westfield and BaByliss. He works passionately to ensure the work delivered by the agency is well designed with the consideration of the user always at the core.
 
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