(Not) Obsessing over the iPhone

PPK of Quirksmode-fame it at it again, this time badmouthing iPhone-centric web development. A lot of people seem to take issue with his point of view, but aside from the (typically Dutch?) in-your-face bluntness, I do think he makes some very valid points. The web is about broad accessibility, about allowing as many people as possible to access your information/ application and the same should indeed be the case for mobile web development.

Sexy as a iPhone-UI mimicking webapp (based on e.g. iUI or JQTouch) might seem, it does have a number of important shortcomings:

  • it is sub-optimal for the web, even on iPhones, as the context is very different (e.g. in terms of responsiveness)
  • the iPhone-UI-approach does not make a lot of sense on non-iPhone high-end touch devices
  • it will probably not work on mid- and lower-end phones at all

So yes, web-developers should try to build mobile sites that render on as many devices/ browsers possible, as we do on the non-mobile web. Unless you’re willing to invest in several sites for different handsets, building for one specific device is a bad choice, however good the browser might be (and Safari Mobile indeed is great).

That’s why I decided to switch from the iPhone-centric WPTouch (which I installed only 3 months ago) to “WordPress Mobile Pack” for this blog. WMP offers great mobile functionality out of the box;

It includes a mobile switcher to select themes based on the type of user that is visiting the site, a selection of mobile themes, extra widgets, device adaptation and a mobile administration panel to allow users to edit the site or write new posts when out and about.

When running the MobiReady test to assess how “mobile-ready” my blog is, I get a great score of 4.35/5 (page size being the main remaining issue). So thanks for ranting PPK!

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