Less than 5 years ago, when most mobile devices used their own embedded or simple real - time operating systems, it appeared to mobile web developers as though there were as many operating system versions as there were models of devices. Given that these operating systems tended to
contain their own varied browser implementations, with no option for users to upgrade them or install alternatives, the challenge of delivering a reliable web experience to all of them was almost insurmountable. Such browsers were typically very limited, and often derived from their WAP browser precedents, provided limited or incomplete XHTML or CSS capabilities, low - fidelity media support, and little or no opportunity to use JavaScript or AJAX in web pages.

In 2005, Opera, a Norwegian browser manufacturer, launched Opera Mini, a browser that could be installed by the user on such devices and which subsequently has become a very popular third - party browser for older and low - to mid - range handsets. (Opera also provides a more capable browser, Opera Mobile, which runs on high - end devices, primarily those running Symbian and Android.) Using a proxy architecture to compress, adapt, and re - layout the content on behalf of the device, this browser provided the first glimpse that rich and complex websites could be rendered well and made relatively usable on a typical mobile device screen.

At about the same time, Nokia released a new browser for their high - end S60 range of devices that was based on code from the open - source WebKit browser project. Given its desktop heritage, the WebKit engine provided an unprecedented level of support for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on a mobile device. This was something of a watershed in the history of mobile browsers, and since then, a number of signifi cant mobile device platforms now ship with WebKit - based browsers, including Apple ’ s iPhone, Google ’ s Android, Palm ’ s WebOS, and most recently Blackberry. Microsoft ’ s mobile operating systems do not provide WebKit - based browsers, but the capabilities of their default browsers have risen significantly in recent releases.

While the different implementations of each of these browsers can vary radically — device diversity is not going away any time soon — they do at least share a common open - source ancestry. This has helped the cause of efficient mobile web development greatly, because a developer or designer can at least assume a reasonable level of support for image and media support, CSS, and AJAX (although not Flash, video, or vector graphics, which remain variable in their support across browsers).

Unfortunately, it ’ s easy to forget that not all users are necessarily running the latest and greatest smart phones. Many cheaper handsets still run on embedded operating systems with weak web.

Source of Information : Wiley - Professional Mobile Web Development with WordPress Joomla and Drupal


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