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Yahoo! counters Android with simple web services tools

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 Yahoo! counters Android with simple web services toolsIn a move reminiscent of Google's "Android," Yahoo! has announced its own toolkit aimed at improving mobile phones as Web services clients. Early proponents of Yahoo! Mobile Widgets include phone vendors LG and Motorola, with Linux phone stack vendor Access also looking at the technology.

Mobile Widgets are intended to let third-party developers write Web applications that support mobile phones as clients. The Widgets are written in part in an XML markup type called "Blueprint," apparently a simplified derivative of XForms. Blueprint documents are hosted on the user's own server, and are purely declarative, lacking any application logic. However, users can program logic using standard server-side scripting, Yahoo! suggests.

Mobile Widgets appear to be fairly simple, compared to Google's Android initiative. Android comprises a suite of Java-based Linux applications that run on the phone itself, providing significant potential for client-side processing.

The simplicity of Mobile Widgets enables any browser-enabled phone to use them, Yahoo! said, including phones that support only XHTML (no error correction by the browser). In their simplest form, Widgets enable developers to push simple RSS news feeds out to users, without writing any Blueprint markup at all, the company notes.

One early proponent of Mobile Widgets is Access, which says it is in talks with Yahoo! over adding support to its Access Linux Platform (ALP) software stack and NetFront browser (recently tapped for Amazon's Kindle eBook reader). Phone vendors Motorola and LG, meanwhile, will make support for Mobile Widgets "widely available on multiple devices," Yahoo said. Also supporting the Mobile Widgets launch are third-party Widget providers eBay, MySpace, and MTV.

Yahoo! has promised to release a Mobile Widgets development kit soon. Meanwhile, it has published a developer's guide to Blueprint markup, here (PDF download). More details about Mobile Widgets may be found here.

Yahoo! Mobile Widgets are not to be confused with Opera's Widgets, which let developers use the Opera browser as a development framework for local applications and interfaces.


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