Tuesday 27 September 2011

The Reality of Mobile Web Development

I'm just coming out of the other end of our mobile web project. What an interesting, and sometimes frustrating ride!
Here are some conclusions:
  • jQuery Mobile is now at release candidate 2
  • iPhone rocks on the mobile web
  • Android browser is deficient
  • Blackberry is seriously deficient - don't go there - it'll be stone dead in a moment!
  • Windows Mobile - Late out of the gate, initial signs are good, but it's too early to tell
If the promise of cross-platform mobile web applications is going to be fulfilled, standards need to be conformed to, and implementation of those standards must be done well. Android should really be a contender, but they need to get their act together.
The theory of cross platform mobile web development seems sound: both iPhone and Android phones are smart devices with large memory footprints and state of the art processing power. Both have WebKit-based HTML5 compliant browsers. However in the real world they are worlds apart. You see the devil is in the details. In the final analysis, iPhone is a platform and Android is a minefield of different software and hardware configurations based on a core reference implementation. Android is not a platform, so much as a legion of platforms built out of similar materials.
It's PC vs Mac all over again in the mobile space.

As I have time, I'll go into details in other posts, including:
  • This is not the Droid we were looking for!
  • Layout strategies for iPhone & Android, Portrait & Landscape, Web App and installed App
  • Delivering flexibility - versatile deployment strategies
  • Optimization & caching techniques
  • Integration with Facebook