Javascript on the iPad

Q: After watching the key note on the iPad2, I am confused about the Java that is included. I have to use Javascript to get into my airline work schedule. This has been the main reason I haven’t purchased the iPad before now. I would love to lighten my load and leave my MacBook behind. Any information on this?

– Anonymous

A: The iPad has always supported Javascript, and in fact the iPhone has had this capability built right into the Safari browser since its very first release back in 2007. More recent iOS versions have added enhancements to speed up the performance of Javascript dramatically, but the basic capabilities have always been there.

Just to be clear, however, there is a difference between Java and Javascript. Java is a full programming language that can (and usually does) support standalone applications that are compiled and downloaded to run on your computer. These apps may be downloaded and run from your browser but otherwise run independently. In order to run full Java applications, you generally need to have installed a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) on your computer. By comparison, Javascript is a simplified language designed to run inside web browsers. Most “web applications” use Javascript, and not full Java; it is likely that your airline work schedule falls into this category as well but you may want to check with them just to be certain. Simply picking up an iPad demo unit in an Apple Store or other retailer and trying it out for yourself may be enough to answer this question for you as well.

Note that none of this should be confused with Flash, which is a completely different technology from Java and Javascript. None of Apple’s iOS devices support Flash and based on Apple’s position on the matter, it is unlikely that Flash support will be added in the foreseeable future.

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