BridgeIt Brings Native Device Features to Mobile Web Apps

HTML5 APIs help developers write mobile web applications that provide native application features. While this may suffice to a large extent for a certain class of applications, often it is found that there is a requirement to integrate one or more device (native) capabilities in these mobile web applications.

Tools like Apache Cordova, Appcelerator and others exist to help use a common code base and language to integrate device capabilities and generate native applications. But what if we want to continue with a web application itself? There is a new tool, BridgeIt, that aims to make the process much simpler via a common JavaScript API and a utility app, thereby allowing access to features like Contacts, Camera, Microphone and much more.

BridgeIt is a JavaScript API that is sponsored by ICEsoft Technologies Inc, who also provide open source libraries like ICEmobile, ICEfaces, and ICEpdf. BridgeIt's goal is to  "enable any web application to access a wide range of mobile device capabilities using a simple JavaScript API." It currently supports access to the following device capabilities : Camera, Camcorder, Microphone, Contacts, Augmented Reality, Cloud Push, Scan, GeoTrack and SMS. As per the site, these features are currently supported on iOS and Android platforms with support for Windows on the way.

The BridgeIt Library can be included in your application via the standard JavaScript <script> tag. You invoke the API functionality, which is then executed for you via the native BridgeIt utility app. The caveat is that this application will need to be present on your device for your functionality to run. The utility will be installed automatically when your web application requires it.

The project is available on GitHub and has several sample projects that you could check out. Documentation is well structured with a Getting Started guide to get you off the blocks quickly. The bridgeit.js code is free and licensed under the Apache 2 Open Source license. The BridgeIt Utility Apps are also free and licensed under the BridgeIt Utility App License.

The BridgeIt library looks promising and integrating it in your existing mobile web applications looks really simple. We don't expect mobile devs who are already using other approaches to switch to BridgeIt immediately, but it provides a very compelling option to integrate a device feature or two in your mobile web applications.

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