Announcing the New Particle Web USB Setup

Over the years, Particle has offered a number of different methods for setting up devices, ranging from mobile apps to web apps to command line tools. While the variety of options is useful, new browser technologies (specifically WebUSB) have made it possible to deliver a world-class setup experience for all Particle devices through a web browser. This new setup app is now the default experience for new Particle users, replacing the mobile setup apps which will be deprecated later this year (no earlier than Q3) in favor of more SDK-like tools for building Particle mobile apps.

This is a trend we’ll see more of as developers move away from native mobile/desktop apps and use the browser more – especially for setup/diagnostic applications like this. The reason is simple – the browser is “good enough” for many things, modern devices are “fast enough,” and the browser delivers on cross-platform.

Cross-platform native development is a lot of work:

  • you have to deal with app stores.
  • You potentially need multiple build machines. The last time I built an iOS app, you needed a MAC – even for a cross-platform toolkit like Meteor.
  • cross-compiling is a lot of work
  • dealing with graphics libraries (which are often proprietary) is difficult

That said, just building a browser for an embedded system is not trivial either – Chromium is a monster to compile. But for many platforms (mobile, desktop), the browser is already present.