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Tuesday, November 23, 2010, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

Apple adds accelerometer, WebSockets support to Safari in iOS 4.2

With the release of iOS 4.2 for the iPhone and iPad, Apple has added WebSockets and accelerometer support in the Mobile Safari Web browser for developers.

The new features, detailed by Mobile Web Programming, allow Web developers the ability to offer users more features when a site is accessed from an iOS-powered device. In one example, author Maximiliano Firtman created a demonstration with a virtual on-screen ball that moves based on the orientation of an iOS device.

Firtman wrote the code in JavaScript and CSS3, and it relies on the newly added DeviceOrientation API in Mobile Safari. The application programming interface detects and delivers accelerometer data 50 times per second, and can also detect gyroscope data from an iPhone 4 or fourth-generation iPod touch.

Mobile Safari in iOS 4.2, released on Monday, also supports WebSockets, a W3C HTML5 API that will help chat and real-time applications that rely on a connection to a server using TCP sockets. Other updates to Mobile Safari include support for HTML5 forms, AJAX 2, print commands, and more.

Apple has pushed HTML5 and open Web standards for its mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad. In September, AppleInsider revealed that Apple had created a "creative technology team" that would create new, interactive HTML5-based content to demonstrate the "innovative" capabilities of websites.



Apple also featured the interactive capabilities of HTML5 in a special section of its website launched in June. It includes features such as a 360-degree view of the entrance to Apple's iconic Fifth Avenue store in New York City, and an embedded trailer for the upcoming movie "Tron," all viewable without any browser plugins in a browser that supports HTML5, like Safari.

Apple's resistance to Adobe Flash also prompted the company to highlight HTML5-based sites that were deemed iPad ready before the touchscreen tablet launched earlier this year. Those sites rely on Web standards such as CSS3 and JavaScript, much like the new accelerometer and WebSockets support found with iOS 4.2.