Thursday, April 19th, 2007

S60: More Mobile Ajax

Category: Ajax, Mobile

There were several people showing off the latest S60 browser software (built on WebKit) running on Nokia phones.

There is richer Ajax support, and was even a nudge, nudge, wink wink comment regarding support of canvas and the like.

Still, although it is great to have Safari on the phone, and zooming around the page is fun, there are still huge issues around screen size. In a world where we see more 30″ monitors, or duals, remembering the little guys can get hard. Ajax brings challenges such as changing multiple areas of the screen at the same time.

Has anyone had particularly good experiences with Ajax on the phone? Maybe someone living in a country where you actually have decent service? :)


Posted by Dion Almaer at 6:06 am

3.8 rating from 33 votes


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Ajax on a phone means, to me, the possibility of smarter and less data transfer. The whole page doesn’t have to be reloaded, just the sports score figure or the weather temperature figure.

It doesn’t mean, once again to me, enabling flashy UIs. Not yet at least.

Comment by Paul M. Watson — April 19, 2007

I have an E70 and use bloglines all the time on my phone… works great.

Comment by Geoff — April 19, 2007

@Paul: i couldn’t agree more. maps on mobiles still means heaps of data – as long as it’s not SVG.

Comment by Rocco — April 19, 2007

I’ve been developing AJAX apps for mobile devices for a while, mostly on Mobile IE for Windows Mobile 5, and Opera Mobile 8.5. It works great. I have a 500 Byte AJAX library that is a tiny workhorse. I also use a 2.7KB DHTML effects library that works nicely on all browsers that support CSS. Even with limited bandwidth, i have been able to get decent results. Of course, WiFi is always better if you have it on your device.

Opera really is the only option out there so far for mobile/embedded browsers. They are licensing their mobile browser to run on devices based on linux, WinCE, etc.. and the best part is, the mobile browser seems to have most of the HTML/Javascript/DOM capabilities of the desktop XP browser. It’s an interesting time to be a developer with all the mobile device options available now.

Comment by Damien — April 19, 2007

Actually, Web Browser for S60 (based on WebKit, same as Safari) has full Ajax support. I know of one service that is specifically tuned for S60 — See

Comment by Franklin Davis — April 20, 2007

IT Mill Toolkit, for instance, works quite well – but as you note, the screen size is usually quite limiting. You really have to design for the screen size, or the usability will suffer.
Having said that, some of the new phones (“communicators”, like the E90), have screens large enough to be useful for quite complex applications. It’s an interesting new arena for Ajax applications – with more and more communities and collaboration online, more and more people are looking for ways to stay “connected” all the time.

Those of you attending AjaxWorld 2007 have probably seen IT Mill running some examples on some interesting devices.

Comment by Marc — April 20, 2007

@Damien: we have a similar library. can you get in touch with me through my homepage (link on name)? we’re trying to gather some people to start an open source ajax-toolkit-for-mobile project and are also doing some other mobile ajax related work. would be great to co-operate!

Comment by Rocco — April 21, 2007

There is one big issue with S60 browser. You can update it only if your phone happens to run same service pack of S60 software as browser was built on.

For example. I bought N73 when it came out. Browser was great but it did not have all the features advertised in S60 website. I could not find update download. So I asked Nokia where to get it. It took several mails before I got an answer.

Sorry the new version is only available for 3rd edition feature pack 1 and not available to update N73, which is a 3rd edition phone.

So there I was. Brand new phone with outdated browser. Browser which could not be updated because phone has wrong service pack of S60 software…

Comment by Mika Tuupola — April 23, 2007

@Mark B: Web Browser for S60 has full JavaScript engine — same as Apple Safari. AFAIK Opera Mobile (the full app) also has good JS support, and Access NetFront has pretty good JS.

Opera Mini is not a full Web browser on the device — it is a small display app, and the actual rendering is done by a server that is effectively running Opera and sending the results to the client for display, so it has very limited ability to support JS in the client.

Comment by Franklin Davis — April 25, 2007

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