The new standard also focuses on making Web applications work offline. Google Gears and Adobe AIR already allow a Web-based application to access local storage and processing on a user’s computer, but HTML 5 aims to make offline capability even easier for a browser to use, without requiring additional plug-ins. Mozilla’s Blizzard adds that it’s not just about going offline: it’s also about allowing a browser to access more of the user’s hardware. For example, he says, standards are starting to emerge for defining how a browser running on a cell phone should access the location information stored on that device.
All the major browsers–Safari, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer–have started adopting parts of HTML 5. But each browser has taken a slightly different approach. Apple’s Safari, for example, has focused on performance, incorporating new features only when they do not harm the browser’s overall speed. The latest version of the Opera browser includes many features of HTML 5, and an experimental version supports HTML 5’s video capabilities. Both Google Chrome and the beta version of Safari support HTML 5’s offline features.
For the features described in HTML 5 to become an official Web standard, they need to be incorporated into two different browsers. Since they are built on the same framework Safari and Chrome count as one browser in this respect. A Web page that uses the feature will then need to work just as well in both browsers. Smith of the World Wide Web Consortium says that it may take some time to make progress, since there are so many independent browsers. “There’s no way to speed it up,” he says.