View Full Version : Android & iPhone's Mobile Safari fundemental standards fail

03-19-2011, 06:08 AM
For over a decade, I have been very faithful about coding my sites to adhere to W3C HTML/CSS specifications. First it was HTML3.0 (hey I started web development over 15 years ago) and then HTML4.01. Somewhere around 2003 - 2004 I converted my site over from using tables for layout to using CSS to handle all layout. Currently I code to HTML4.01 & CSS2.1 although I'll be starting to use more HTML5 and CSS3 as those specifications are finalized and the browsers used by the majority of users support them.

Somewhere along the way I even started providing different stylesheets for different media types (e.g. All, Screen, Printer, Handheld, Braille). The idea behind media types in CSS is simplistic elegance. I can create one code base and deliver one version of my website, but it will be optimized for the different devices/media it is presented on. Long before Apple's iPhone & Google's Android I had used tools provided by Opera to test and optimize my site for handheld devices using the "handheld" media type stylesheet.

When the iPhone came out, Steve Job's ceaseless arrogance determined that the iPhone didn't need to abide by my handheld media type instruction. As a result, Mobile Safari uses my screen stylesheet instead. Making matters worse, the best I can tell, at least on the Android, there isn't even an option to allow the user to switch between the two layouts. I understand that some users like seeing webpages the exact same way on their iPhone as on their computer, but for some sites this just doesn't work so well. This is why the handheld media type was created.

Mobile Opera's way of handling this is to let users switch between mobile view and standard view, but even their implementation has shortcomings as it isn't a site specific option and it is buried under the settings menu.

What mobile browsers need to do when a site offers a both screen and handheld stylesheets, is to provide some non-intrusive, but easy to spot option to switch between the two presentations. Browsers then need to save this setting for each website such that the next time the website is visited, it is presented the same way the next time the site is loaded.

03-30-2011, 07:43 AM
Mobile is still fairly new technology Ken, but I'm sure that folks like you who are pushing for standards will be heard loud and clear, but only if you keep writing great stuff like the above and keep publishing it where ever you can.