The Mobile Web and Windows Phone 7

What is the Mobile Web?

A recent blog entry of Rob Tiffany’s points out what the mobile web is, and equally important, what it isn’t. Here’s Rob’s example of the mobile web, as seen on Windows Phone:

mobile web

As the name “mobile web” implies, what we see here is a web page formatted for mobile devices. Consider the alternative: the traditional web site, designed with desktop computers in mind, as seen on the Phone:

not mobile web

Rob says that having web pages that can switch to mobile-friendly mode is important because:

  • The mobile web is growing rapidly. It’s growing faster than the desktop web did in the 1990s and the number of mobile websites has grown twentyfold since 2008.
  • The mobile browser is the most-used app on most phones. It accounts for 13% of user face time and 50% of all phone data traffic.

Rob also believes that access to phone features will be made available to the HTML5/CSS/JavaScript troika by 2013, meaning that web-based phone apps will have functionality rivalling those of native apps:

  • Access to GPS in 2010
  • Access to the camera and accelerometer in 2011
  • Access to the user’s calendar, contacts and SMS in 2012
  • Access to files in 2013

For more, check out Rob’s article on the mobile web, where he covers a wide array of topics:

  • How intertwined the mobile web and shopping are (quite true for me; I’m always checking reviews and recommendations on my phone when I’m in brick-and-mortar stores)
  • Markup differences between the mobile and desktop web
  • User experience considerations for mobile sites
  • Building sites that adapt to desktop or mobile browsers
  • Optimizations
  • What he likes best about the mobile web

What About the Mobile Web on Windows Phone?

I often refer to the browser currently on Windows Phone as “IE 7.5” – it’s basically IE7 with some IE8 features included. It’s a decent, functional browser that I’ve been making very good use of (especially since I’ve been on the road a lot in the past few months), but it’s no IE9.

Luckily, that state of affairs won’t last for too much longer. There’s a team hard at work bringing IE9 to the Phone, and for the first time, the desktop and mobile versions of IE are built on the same codebase. The upcoming IE for Windows Phone will have IE9 desktop’s standard compliance, and as you can see in the video above (featuring Joe Belfiore presenting WP7 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago), it’ll also have IE9’s hardware acceleration.

You’ll see more about IE9, the mobile web and other goodies at MIX11 in just over a month. There’s great tech afoot!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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