Category Archives: mobile web

Blogposts on about “the mobile web” (i.e. internet on your iphone, nokia with symbian, htc with android or windows mobile or other smartphone), including links, best practices and some reviews.

Android Chrome bug when styling unicode character?

symbols CSS weirdness in chrome for androidWhile experimenting with the use of Unicode characters in a small proof of concept, I stumbled upon what I think is a bug in Chrome for Android. Apparently character ☰, which renders as ☰ and which most people consider the “options”-icon, cannot be given a color in Chrome for Android whereas other Unicode characters can.

As you can see when visiting this test-page, the 3 symbols styled correctly (font color white) in most browsers (tested on IE8, FF on W7, Ubuntu and Android, Chrome on W7 and Ubuntu), but the options-symbol is not white on Chrome for Android (at least on my Samsung Galaxy S4).

So, does this qualify as a bug, or did I just mess up? Anyone happens to know a workaround?

Nieuwe niet meer mobiel!

(Update December 2014: ik bouwde zelf een alternatieve versie die sneller en toegankelijker is op homepageIk ❤ mobiele websites, zelfs op de desktop. Bij het refreshen van vandaag (12 mei) kwam ik op de nieuwe versie uit. De developers hebben zich ongetwijfeld goed geamuseerd om niet alleen de nieuwe look & feel te implementeren, maar ook om de achterliggende technologie grondig te herbouwen naar een JavaScript-based UI volgens de “single page application“-filosofie (iemand heeft zich wel héél erg in angular.js verdiept, daar aan de Reyerslaan).

Maar ik, eenvoudige gebruiker, ben minder enthousiast. De site ziet er misschien moderner uit, maar is minder bruikbaar; zonder javascript is er niets te zien (neem een voorbeeld aan “cut the mustard“, progressive enhancement zoals de BBC die predikt), “above the fold” staan er enkel afbeeldingen en vooral; alles is plots trager!

Want over snelheid kun je niet discussiëren; sneller is beter, trager is slechter, zeker mobiel. De voorgaande versie van “woog” pakweg 150KB en laadde volledig in minder dan 2 seconden, maar de nieuwe versie tikt af op 2560KB in 6 seconden (gemeten op met “cable” bandbreedte-profiel, met “fast mobile” wordt dat 17s).

Is een mobiele site? 2 megabyte aan data zeggen van niet.

Facebook force-feeding Messenger, going mobile web instead

So Facebook wants me to install yet another permissions-greedy app just to read messages? That is so frustrating! So no, don’t think so guys. I’m putting Facebook back into the (slightly) safer sandbox that is the mobile web;
facebook forces users from app to web

So thanks for reminding me why I love my mobile browser that much Facebook!

Mobile WP YouTube Lyte; no-one said it would be easy!

WP YouTube Lyte and mobile, I must be honest, it is not an easy marriage. Light YouTube Embeds focuses on optimizing performance by displaying a dummy player which takes less then a tenth of what a normal YouTube embed requires. Only when clicking on that dummy player, the real YouTube embed is loaded and auto-played. Simple and efficient, no?

Mobile is an whole other ballgame. For starters, there’s no autoplay on YouTube mobile embeds. At all, because Apple prohibits autoplay in HTML5 video and browsers on Android seem to agree. So the trick with the dummy player does not work (unless you would accept users having to click twice) and as a consequence, WP YouTube Lyte on mobile loads the (mobile) embed straight away.

But that’s not all; for audio-only to work, auto-hide has to be disabled (as the bottom controls are the only player elements that remain visible) but that despite setting autohide=0&controls=1, controls still remain hidden in mobile YouTube embeds, rendering the audio-only player UI useless, as a consequence of which WP YouTube Lyte has to show the full video on mobile. And YouTube playlists on mobile are known to be broken as well, one can only hope this is being worked on by YouTube.

And then one week ago a user posted about yet another mobile-specific problem on the WP YouTube Lyte supportforum; when rotating your smartphone or tablet, the size of the embedded video did not adjust. The reason in a nutshell; while LYTE (the dummy player) is responsive, the YouTube iframe-embed that is loaded on mobile is not. To solve this, I added an orientationchange event handler (WebKit-only to my disappointment, although I do have an alternative approach that I might introduce at a later stage) in version 1.3.3 which I released earlier today, re-requesting the embed when the orientation changes.

The conclusion; WP YouTube Lyte works on mobile, but it is not the most elegant of solutions at this particular stage. So in the spirit of full disclosure; if desktop & performance are key, then WP YouTube Lyte remains one of the best solutions for YouTube on WordPress out there, but if your main target audience is mobile web, you should at least be aware of these limitations (some of which also exist outside of WP YouTube Lyte).

Why I love the mobile web

This is why I’m a big fan of good mobile websites; the normal BBC Sport Formula 1 page loads in 6 seconds, where the mobile version loads in a mere 2 seconds (when over cable, DSL and 3G are off course slower). Same content, less clutter and based on progressive enhancement for ultimate responsiveness (from low-end phone on a mobile data network to a tablet on WiFi). Guess which site I use on all my devices (smartphone, netbook, the family tablet and my work laptop)?

The details, for both document complete and fully loaded (between round brackets) as seen from the Brussels node using IE9 and the cable-bandwidth profile;

bbc sport desktop thumbnailbbc sport mobile
load time 6.011s (7.371s) 2.057s (3.243s)
download size 988 KB (1015 KB) 184 KB (657 KB)
requests 134 (141) 32 (65)
test report result result

Notice the big difference between document loaded and fully loaded on mobile; that’s where the progressive enhancement kicks in. If you visit the same mobile site with a small screen-size device or without JavaScript, page load time drops to 1.467s for just 76 KB.

An even more extreme example; the desktop news-site for the VRT (the non-commercial broadcaster here in the northern part of Belgium) loads in 10,598s (11,482s) for a whopping 4.337 KB (4.406 KB) (on cable, it gets way worse when on DSL-bandwidth!) while their (one site fits all) mobile site only needs 0,869s (1.475s) for 116KB (120KB). Guess which site I use?

The conclusion is simple; don’t assume that just adding some mediaqueries will make your dog-slow site truly mobile-ready. It’s 2013 and websites should be lean and mean, but most of them still remain way too fat for our smartphones.

So who’ll bring me my Spanish Firefox OS phone for €69?

Spain is the first country to see a Firefox OS handset on the market. Movistar sells the -admittedly low-end- ZTE Open for a whopping €69​, which includes €30 prepaid value and a 4Gb memory card!

ZTE Open with Firefox OS

So is there anyone planning to go on holiday to Spain who would be willing to buy me an orange ZTE Open?

The best WP YouTube Lyte to date!

Today WP YouTube Lyte 1.2.0 got finally pushed out the gates! This new version is beyond any doubt the best version to date, with the following new features:

  • LYTE embeds are now fully responsive
  • automatic inclusion of microdata (VideoObject) (also known as “rich snippets”)
  • even better performance (less requests; was 5, now 3)
  • updated to the current YouTube look & feel, see this YouTube video about microdata:

Introduction to Rich Snippets

Watch this video on YouTube.

Although I did go through a small beta-cycle, with feedback from 5 users (thanks guys), I am pretty sure there still are bugs that will rear their ugly head in the following days (some strings haven’t been translated yet, for example). Do contact me, add a comment here or create a post on the forum in case you encounter unexpected behavior!