Back to Mobile View

Skip to Content

AdLib: Apple's secret web app weapon

MobileCrunch noticed something interesting about the iPad User Guide hidden in the iPad Safari's bookmarks. It's a web app, but it doesn't feel like a web app -- the views scroll independently and smoothly, "clicking" is exact, and the whole thing runs much more like a native iPad app than anything web app developers have been able to put together yet. Why? Apple's got a secret -- Done21 is calling it "AdLib," after a file found somewhere in the source code, and apparently it's a library that connects UIKit to HTML, CSS, and Javascript. It's a go-between framework that has no documentation in the code at all, and uses practically unlabeled variables. In other words, Apple is putting their own magic into web apps, and while the code is there to see, they aren't interested in sharing.

At this point, it's not much more than a novelty -- Apple obviously is depending on Xcode and the iPhone OS SDK for developing iPad and iPhone applications, and there's no need for them to share the code magic that's making this happen. But it's interesting when you think of the original emphasis that Apple placed on web apps way back in the early iPhone days. If all of those web apps we had were as well-coded and responsive as this -- in other words, if they'd actually had ties into the UI -- then maybe web apps would have been just enough.

MobileCrunch noticed something interesting about the iPad User Guide hidden in the iPad Safari's bookmarks. It's a web app, but it doesn't...