iPhone's web browser display method: Dumb?
Jobs likes to claim that the iPhone can deliver "the real web," and it certainly sounds like the browser itself is quite powerful, but there are several problems here:
1) The iPhone has a maximum screen width (when held in landscape mode) of 480 pixels. The majority of web sites are optimized for an 800-pixel-wide screen. The iPhone doesn't seem to reformat pages to fit the screen (i.e., rescale graphics and wrap text). So that means that with the iPhone, you're either going to be looking at a "10 mile view" of a web page where you can see the entire width of the page but can't read the text, or you'll zoom in to read text and need to scroll horizontally. Jobs touts this as some sort of innovation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't many early (and even later) web browsers for the Palm OS and PPC work this way? Most people (and the companies behind them) decided it sucked and changed course to instead reformat web pages to fit onto the smaller screen.
2) Even if the iPhone had an 800-pixel-wide screen, the only time it could deliver on its promise to provide a "desktop-quality" web browsing experience would be when you were connected via WiFi. Well, this is a phone primarily, not an internet tablet, and much of the time you're going to need to connect to the web via the cell carrier's data network. In this case, we're talking EDGE, which will be exceptionally painful. This pain is only increased because of point #1.
Sorry, but you can't change physics. The phone lacks the minimum desktop resolution width to deliver a readable no-horizontal-scrolling-required web page, and the data network it's tied to lacks the speed required to deliver these web pages in an acceptable timeframe. IMO, the current Treo, WM, and Symbian S60 browsers have the better approach. If a phone comes out with an 800-pixel-wide screen, I would agree that offering a full-size-view would make sense, but even then it should offer some sort of "fast" view which attempts to reduce page retrieval times when accessing the web when using a slower cell data connection.
- 06-27-2007, 08:08 AM #2
The iPhone is all about style over substance. What looks cooler - having a full web page and then having to zoom to read, or reformatting the web page for easy reading without horizontal scrolling?
On another website some-one said why is there no picture dialing on the main screen of the iPhone? That would enable one touch dialing of your most common contacts. Guess that wont be cool enough for Jobs.
As another poster said:
The iPhone only looks cool. You didn't think it would actually be cool, did you?
- 06-27-2007, 08:20 AM #3
- 06-27-2007, 08:25 AM #4
- 06-27-2007, 08:28 AM #5
There have been some attempts to make a browser like this. Picsel Browser is one of them, and I must say it works beautifully, although it is a FEW YEARS old it works the same way as safari. That being said, its still easier (although certainly not cooler) to use PIE with optimized web pages for the small screen.
- 06-27-2007, 08:40 AM #6
Obviously the browsing by proxy method used by opera mini is a lot faster, and uses the horsepower of a server somewhere else, vs the thick client-based iPhone approach.
- 06-27-2007, 09:08 AM #7
- 06-27-2007, 09:24 AM #8
The way the Nokia S60 browser does this is it squeezes the text to 320 wide (on a 320 wide screen). So for instance on a page like the TreoCentral home page the central text fits perfectly across the screen (no sideways scrolling is required) and the adverts and stuff are out of view. That's how it looks when you first view a page, but you can also zoom out or scroll sideways etc if you wish. It may not sound that great from that description but it actually works extremely well and the browser has been widely praised as the best mobile browser around.
Safari on iPhone is based on the same core (WebKit) and I think works in a very similar fashion, except that you start in the zoomed out view. Notice that in the the demo on the Apple site and the Mossberg/Boehret tapping to zoom in leads to the tapped element filling the screen. I'd like to see more evidence but that seems to be how it works.
I will say this, in my opinion the Nokia browser is massively better than either Blazer or PIE. I'd rate it the standout feature on my E61. From what I've seen (caveat: not quite enough yet) I'd say iPhone Safari looks even better (much more fluid, and probably 'zoomed out' is the best way to start). Read the the reviews, they think the browser's a total wow (with Wifi!):
David Pogue, New York Times
Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret, The Wall Street Journal
Steven Levy, Newsweek
Edward C. Baig, USA Today
- 06-27-2007, 09:29 AM #9
- 06-27-2007, 09:38 AM #10
- 06-27-2007, 09:40 AM #11
WiFi is far from ubiquitous, particularly "free." Sure, if you want to subscribe to T-Mobile, load up on AT&T WiFi (if you have their telephone and internet at home), maybe get an Admiral's Club membership, then some of the places you frequent will be accessable. Until then, waiting for iPhone II and HSDPA may be your only solution.
That all said, I still lust for that screen. Mossberg's short video demo makes me believe you really can see the screen just like the Apple demos - nearly laptop screen quality. I just love the way my Blackjack start searching contact names the minute I type on the keyboard, but that screen on the iPhone is so good for old eyes. I just wish I could get past my personal experience with EDGE.
- 06-27-2007, 09:49 AM #12
- 06-27-2007, 09:51 AM #13
- 06-27-2007, 10:42 AM #14
- 06-27-2007, 11:20 AM #15
I posted this in a recent thread, but I wanted to post it back here since this thread is specific to the topic and thought it would be good to get some new thoughts from people who either own or have played with the iPhone's browser. Anyways, here's the recent post I made in another thread...
I played with an iPhone at an Apple store on Saturday and played a bit more extensively with the web browser today with my brother's iPhone. After playing with it more, I confirmed my concerns. The browser is cool for showing off to others (when in a WiFi zone, in particular). The idea of displaying a desktop-optimized web page as-is sounds like a great idea in theory. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn't have an 800-pixel-wide screen (which is what the majority of web sites are optimized for), so what you're left with is a mile-high view of a website where much of the text is unreadable. You then have to zoom in to certain portions of the page to read the actual text (often requiring horizontal scrolling).
What really surprised and disappointed me, though, was how it "handled" mobile-optimized websites. I navigated to one of mine and found that the iPhone wanted to display it as if it was a full-size website. So what I got was a mile-high view of unreadable text.
So one of the big things I would change (and I fear Jobs will be too stubborn to change, since it would require him effectively admitting that the mobile browser majority were already doing it right) would be to offer a "mobile optimized" mode which rescales graphics and wraps text to fit the iPhone's 320-pixel-width or 480-pixel-width (depending on how you're holding it) screen, eliminating the need for zooming in/out or scrolling right/left.
- 07-02-2007, 09:11 PM #17
- 07-02-2007, 09:59 PM #18
As they say, try it for yourself. And try to "bump" into someone and catch some video. That's where you get the most "wow's".
FWIW, in my limited play-time, I didn't find the EDGE speeds to be unbearable. My general philosophy is that any mobile device with a screen size less than 800 pixels wide (which is pretty much all of them), provides the optimum web browsing experience when browsing mobile-optimized websites. And when you're accessing sites like those, EDGE speeds are acceptable. The big problem I have with the iPhone is that it thinks it's "too good" for mobile-optimized websites and tries to display them as though they were desktop-optimized websites, resulting in too-tiny fonts in its default mile-high view.
- 07-02-2007, 10:33 PM #20
Yeah but a little pinch and the mobile text is readable. I actually think safari is the best part of the phone.
If edge kils you, most sites have mobile options that load faster. But it doesn't kill me, and I don't find it much slower than 3g (the WM device has to render the page and refit it to the small screen, while the iphone shows the page without those steps. Its definitelky slower, but not as much as you would think. Those 2 minute times I read are absolute BS.
You really have to use it to get the feel for it. Treocentral for instance, viewed in full is great. If I double click on apost, the browser:detects the text box, and zooms in precisely to where only that text box is on the screen. Very readable, and it takes a millisecond, literally. Trust me, there are many things that MSFT will copy here with their new OS
- 07-03-2007, 11:24 AM #21
Hi Scott R,
Long time no see! (due to my absence from another forum)...
While I agreed for the most part with what you said before trying the iPhone, I must say that I'm very impressed with how it does what it does within its paradigm. The zooming on the content when double-clicking is quite intelligent and almost always fits the text you want to read to the width of the display. Double-clicking again gets you back to full view. It's much more intelligent than I thought it would be. I am yet to find that I need to scroll left to right to read anything. Yes, while in the full web page view in some web sites, the text is sometimes too small, although you're very often able to see the headings of a section and decide if you want to read it.
Actually what I personally find most annoying is having to do relatively a lot just to scroll the page to continue reading (stroke the screen rather then click a button). You can't do it all with one hand and you have to stroke the screen correctly or you get off of the linear reading mode.
But, alas, this is Apple land... the iPhone does many things quite well but if you want to do them differently, you're likely not to be able to. All in all, though, I am amazed of how usable this mobile browser is.
- 07-03-2007, 11:52 AM #22