Mobile Web Browser Extensions : Utilizing local device functionality in mobile web applications

University essay from KTH/Kommunikationssystem, CoS


Mobile web browsers of today have many of the same capabilities as their desktop counterparts. However, among the capabilities they lack is a way for web applications to interact with local devices. While today’s mobile phones commonly include GPS receivers and digital cameras, these local devices are currently not accessible from within the browser. The only means of utilizing these devices is by using standalone applications, but such applications lack the versatility of web browsers. If a mobile browser could utilize these local devices, then a mobile application could run within the browser, thus avoiding the need for specialized client software.

This thesis suggests an approach for adding such capabilities to mobile browsers. In the proposed method, scripted access to local device functionality is facilitated by a local Java application. This application acts as a proxy server and allows the browser to call methods exposed by the local Java APIs. Both the benefits and some security concerns of this approach are examined. The benefits are further highlighted through two example web applications which utilize local devices.

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