Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

Mobile Ajax: Safari Browser

Category: Mobile

Someone from Nokia was at the show last week, and he did a good job and trying to show 100% of the attendees a new phone that had WebKit installed on it.

To manage the small screen the browser allowed you to zoom in and out. The entire page is shown in zoom out mode allowing you to select the area to jump in to.

The back and forward functionality was pretty nice too. When you want to move around in your history a carousel view shows you images of the pages so you know exactly where you are going.

What about usability problems? The Nokia rep was showing how Ajax is breaking his little world. When he moused over on a Netflix-like popup he was unable to move into it without losing the focus and having the popup dissappear. He asked the community what could be done to fix some of these small-screen issues.

I don’t think there are any obvious solutions. Small screens are constraining. The Opera browser does a good job of taking a web page meant for a desktop client and algorythmically calculates where the content is versus the navigation. It takes this and uses CSS to restructure the page into something that makes sense.

This leads to the big questions when working with the mobile web:

  • Should I just wait for mobile phones and networks to catch up so they can grok my normal web app?
  • Do I just need to bite the bullet and create a mobile version of my application (e.g. BBC.co.uk/mobile). If so, can I get away with a handheld stylesheet to do the job, or do I truly need a full application (the handheld css still requires downloading the full html body for example, and can only do SO much with the app.)

Nokia Web Browser

Nokia Web Browser

Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:00 am

3.3 rating from 28 votes


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My answer? Sites should be designed with mobile access in mind from the start.

What do developers need in order to do this? Stable, well-defined, standardized mobile platform (as few as possible) with clear, published development cycles.

Judging fron the fact that we’ve only just begun to approach this on desktop browsers doesn’t leave me optimistic. But I believe that’s the answer, if anyone cares.

Comment by leMel — May 16, 2006

algorythmically = algorithmically

Comment by Mom — May 16, 2006

Thanks for the post. I am new to your blog and I like what i see. I look forward to your future work.

Comment by CellphoneSavant — May 16, 2006

Mobile Ajax, Ruby on Rails and the RIM Blackberry

I was reading some great stuff about the Mobile Web over at Ajaxian. Designing for small screens presents some unique challenges and in his latest post, Dion Almaer does a great job of highlighting some of the key ones. I’ve been spending a great dea

Trackback by gaffney.wsj2.com — May 16, 2006

Well, for starters, it would help, if the Nokia browser would run on older Series60 phones too, not only on latest and greatest.

Developers will not bother with testing for minority browsers they don’t have access to. Right now, Nokia’s attitude to older feature packs is not helping.

Comment by Me — May 17, 2006

It’s probably true that many (but not all) of the design constraints for mobile also hold for accessibility on the desktop. For example, the lack of a mouse is true for both. If Ajax is to grow up, keyboard and voice navigation will have to be part of the story; this will help both mobile users and disabled ones.

Comment by Jim — May 18, 2006

why wait?

there are more than 30 million ajax enabled phones in the market already (see overview at http://opera.com/products/mobile/products/)

Comment by think — May 19, 2006

[…] Ajaxian MobileWatch the IE Mobile Team blog for further details on our DOM support. Mobile Ajax Example. Microsoft put up a working demo for an example of accessing the current K-Index for a given location so that people […]

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