01 - Introduction to PhoneGap

Phonegap Introduction

Are you new to mobile app development? Do you feel that mobile app development is a very complex process? In fact, PhoneGap makes the process of mobile app development very simple and very faster. If you have the basic knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, you can build wonderful mobile apps with the help of PhoneGap. PhoneGap is a free open source framework which helps you build mobile apps using web technologies.

Magic of PhoneGap

The native development language for different mobile platforms is different. For example, if you want to develop a mobile app for iOS, you should have a deep understanding of Objective C. If you want to develop a mobile app for BlackBerry, you need to be a Java expert. In short, if you want to develop mobile apps for different platforms, you need to know multitude of languages. This is one of the reasons that makes mobile app development complex.

But, the real magic of PhoneGap is that you can develop mobile apps for a number of platforms without knowing any dense programming language. That is, you are building mobile apps without any native code when you use PhoneGap. You just need to know HTML, CSS and JavaScript (that most of you know) in order to build mobile apps for different platforms.

Another magic of PhoneGap is that it supports all major mobile platforms including iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Bada, Symbian, Windows Phone and Palm WebOS. This becomes possible because JavaScript works consistently across different platforms. Thus, the same app can be moved to different platforms without any change or with minimal changes. In short, you run the same app with the same lines of code on a multitude of mobile platforms. This makes mobile app development simpler and quicker.

If you are building a mobile app where the speed of development and cross platform availability are of utmost importance, then PhoneGap is one of the best options for you.

Supported Features

PhoneGap offers a number of features in the form of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that help you come up with full fledged mobile apps. These APIs allow you to access the native operating system functionalities using JavaScript. Some of the APIs offered by PhoneGap are camera, file, media, network, compass, accelerometer, contacts, notification and so on. If you already have a smart phone, you might have used the Instagram app that allows you to take pictures and videos and then share them on different social networking platforms. This app has to access the camera which is done through coding. This can be done using PhoneGap’s Camera API.

You might have used a number of mobile apps while travelling that help you plan your trip, translate the language, get route maps and so on. Such travel apps might be using Compass API, Accelerometer API, Notification API etc. Similarly, there are a number of other APIs that help app developers build mobile apps easily and quickly.

Apps Created with PhoneGap

There are thousands of apps created using PhoneGap. You also might have used some of them without knowing that they are developed using PhoneGap. Some of the popular PhoneGap mobile apps include BBS Olympics, Meeting Assistant, WeatherJams, Path to Palindromes etc.

PhoneGap and Cordova

As you continue with this tutorial series, you might encounter the term “Apache Cordova” a couple of times. What is the difference between PhoneGap and Cordova? Let us have a look at the history of PhoneGap to understand this. PhoneGap was created in 2009 by Nitobi, a startup. In 2011, Adobe purchased Nitobi and PhoneGap codebase was donated to Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under the name Apache Callback. But, may be because that Nitobi offices were at Cordova St., Vancouver, the user community used to refer Apache Callback as Apache Cordova. However, PhoneGap and Apache Cordova can be considered as same at least for the time being.


PhoneGap is a wonderful mobile app development framework to create native mobile apps. It allows you to build mobile apps using web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS for different mobile platforms including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows and so on.

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