Trolltech enables easier mobile Web 2.0 apps

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Trolltech, a provider of software development platforms and frameworks, hopes to open up mobile application development to Web developers with support for WebKit.

Trolltech plans to announce on Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it has integrated QT, its development platform, with WebKit, the Web browser technology used by Apple, Nokia, Google, Motorola and others. The integration should make it easier for developers to build products that integrate online components into mobile phone applications.

Trolltech, a Norwegian company that Nokia recently announced plans to buy, has integrated the tools so that developers can build the bulk of an application using HTML and the rest using C ++. By using HTML to create most of the application, handset makers can save development costs because C ++ engineers are typically harder to find and more expensive to use, said Benoit Schillings, CTO of Trolltech. However, they can still create some features using C ++, which offers more functionality and performance.

A handset maker could decide to use HTML to create features that it might want to tweak to appeal to different audiences. For example, a handset maker may want to enlarge visual items on a page in a phone designed for older people, and they can adapt and customize those features quicker using HTML than C ++, Schillings said.

Even though the applications may be primarily built using HTML, they don’t have to be browser-based or require an Internet connection, he said. However, he envisions interesting ways to combine offline and online applications.

For example, Trolltech has demonstrated an address book application that phone users can access without going online. The application collects information from a user’s Facebook friends, adding photos or other new content from friends’ Facebook pages into their address book entry.

The Qt WebKit integration will be available as a module in Qt 4.4, which is expected to come out in the second quarter.

Trolltech also planned to release Qtopia Phone Edition version 4.3 in Barcelona, adding support for new features including touch-screens. The new Qtopia Synch Agent syncs data between Qtopia and Microsoft Outlook.

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