In the evolution of mobile technology internet connectivity has had a roller coaster ride. Not just the actual connecting but the browsing and searching for information. Over the years I’ve noticed a tug-a-war going on between those creating internet sites that are mobile friendly and mobile OS’s trying to render content and deliver internet browsing in a mobile format.
The Real Challenge
The real challenge has been creating a mobile user interface that operates, looks, and serves up rich media content in a much smaller format. The end user wants to see what they see on their computer and they want it to navigate in the same manner. If the site has a nice flash interface or other programming interface that is difficult to render on a mobile device they want it to behave the same, on a smaller screen.
Getting user friendly operation with mobile devices has been a give and take between programmers and mobile device OS’s. Is it the burden on the site programmer to make the site mobile friendly or should the mobile device be able deliver internet content in a mobile friendly state? The fact that mobile browsers have adapted well, as mobile device usage has increased, makes the job somewhat easier on both sides. The shear volume and variety of screen sizes, QWERTY layouts, and input options is the daunting task that programmers face. The mobile device market is not only growing at an accelerated rate but the variety of mobile devices is also expanding.
A few years ago I had to take a crash course in mobile technology while building a touch screen kiosk from the ground up. I quickly learned there were already a number of tools in place to help with input processes. Netscape had always been a favorite browser and I was glad see the basic traditions of the mosaic suite continue with Mozilla. The plugins available in Firefox were a huge help. Since then I have had the opportunity to create some mobile applications. Not surprisingly, those that came before me had laid a smooth road to port web applications to various mobile platforms.
Hardware vs Software
There has always been a tradeoff between hardware driven advances and software. Just as multithreading was the programmers answer to multiple CPUs, it is clear that the path to the future in mobile computing is the hands of the programmer. As more advancement is made in mobile power then more powerful web applications will be expected. Just as in the early days of detecting screen size and browser type the web programmer will have to adapt to the emerging mobile market.
What I see happening is a growing market devoted to transforming non-mobile friendly sites into mobile friendly ones with code routines that auto-magically transform them. The paths have already been laid out by those who have come before and wrestled with the code to make it happen. As we go forward it will all be tied together so that redirects to mobile friendly sites will serve up the same rich content that end users expect on their mobile devices. We are close to that time now and there are already companies touting programs that will replicate your site in a mobile friendly way. The technology is still not perfect but as demand grows for quality mobile internet information; the technology will not be far behind.
The mobile device manufacturers will expect that programming technology on the internet will meet what they build and yes the programming community will meet and exceed their expectations, the programmer will deliver.
by Jim Atkins "thedosmann"