January 28, 2010

Is the iPad a mobile device like any other mobile phone in terms of browsing?

Written by Jon Arne Sæterås.Filed under Blog | 14 Comments to Read

Well, then the iPad is launched, finally. The internet is full of reviews and opinions, so I will not replicate that. iPad_times_42245a

I am sure this device will satisfy some needs out there (I will get one, for sure! Me and my sofa have the need), but the main question concerning us there at Mobiletech is; Is this a mobile device that we should enable support for in our software- and service offering?

We have said earlier that we are not sure, yet. Until now the tablets have been the magic device everyone talks about but no one have seen or tried. Some said it would be the silver bullet and the missing link, other more sceptical. We are still not sure about if, how or when we will enable support for such devices as the iPad. We would like the feedback from you to help us make this decision.

Let me explain how we consider our role: We make digital content fit into the mobile browsing context so that it is easy and enjoyable to consume and interact with. So the question we ask our selves is “can we do anything to make the browsing experience better on the iPad based on the dimensions in mobile that are our core?”

Below is a simple pros and cons table from the top of my head.

Yes, its a mobile device that should be treated as any other mobile phone or handheld deviceNo, this device does not need any adaption.
  • iPad has an interaction model that is not ideal for sites built for the mouse and keyboard as the input devices.
  • The average web site out there today will not be fully compatible with the context the iPad provides.
  • The iPad has a “mobile phone operating system”, same as iPhone.
  • The device comes with a SIM (some devices).
  • The device is mobile.
  • Preferred device for surf and read email and other “30 sec tasks” you wont use your PC or laptop for.
  • Does not support flash.
  • No multitasking.
  • The screen size is close to other high end devices (N900 etc) that we do consider mobile devices and hence support.
  • Low bandwidth using 3g, demand optimizing of data sent across.
  • Wap billing and other network services may work and be value adding if 3G is enabled.
  • The screen is big enough to browse and read sites made for desktop/laptop devices.
  • Powerful processor compared to many “classic mobile phones”.
  • Do support html5 fairly well, in addition to other “desktop mark-up standards”.
  • iPad is not “the new mobile phone” and will not replace mobile phones. Its a new “device class”.
  • The browser handles web sites very well (except flash, Adobe says its around the corner).
  • No GPS, cant utilize location fully.
  • Not necessarily as personal a device as the mobile phone is.
  • It is not a pocket device, that is “always with you”

So there are definitely many features we currently offer through our software that the iPad could benefit from. Our finger-tip-touch-friendly widgets (like for the iPhone), billing, identification and location, mobile metrics services are just a few. There is no doubt that our Mobiletech Frame product already support the iPad and can produce a site that utilises all unique aspects on the iPad, much better than a “regular web site”! On the other hand there are some points indicating that this device should not be treated as a handheld or mobile device as it does not share all capabilities a regular mobile phone holds. The iPad will not replace the PC, laptop or the mobile phone. If you have the time, use our framework to create a iPad optimised site. You will be amazed about the difference.

So we have not yet decided our position. We need to try and evaluate the device before we can recommend anything. The most important thing for us is that our offering fits into your workflow and value chain. We can do both or a little bit of everything. Hence, we would like to invite you to give your opinion on the iPad. Would an “iPad optimised browsing experience” be something you would except from Mobiletech? Please comment this blog post, send us an email, tweet us or call us.

About the Author Jon Arne Sæterås

Product Director

Other posts written by Jon Arne Sæterås (40 posts)

@jonarnes

  • James Pearce said,

    It will certainly get people thinking more about context: and about the fact that mobile users don't just need collapsed markup (or not even that) – but different things to do.

    In other words, the HTML on http://ipad.mysite.com may be just as rich and complex as on http://www.mysite.com – but the experience should be tailored to the context of the user (supine or semi-mobile), and their form-factor expectations.

    This lies at the root of what the NYT had done with their demo app: improve on the standard desktop site to make it feel more like a held newspaper.

    (And there's no reason they couldn't have done it as an HTML app too, I think)

  • erik saastad said,

    John Arne. There is only one of your reasons that counts: The screen is big enough to browse and read sites made for desktop/laptop devices. So it is not a mobile device.

  • erik saastad said,

    But we still might benefit from creating better experiences for it – through apps – i think. (But it could be online as well). What do I know yet?

  • James Pearce said,

    I disagree – you're suggesting that browser and screen technologies are more important than human needs or expectations.

    I also expect to see lots of these devices used as 'commuting browsers' on, eg trains and buses. This is still mobile, (even if more sedentary than perambulatory), but still not the same as a focussed desktop surfer.

    To me, the iWork apps feel a little misplaced for this same reason… do you really want to do concerted office work in these semi-downtime contexts?

  • James Pearce said,

    I disagree – you're suggesting that browser and screen technologies are more important than human needs or expectations.

    I also expect to see lots of these devices used as 'commuting browsers' on, eg trains and buses. This is still mobile, (even if more sedentary than perambulatory), but still not the same as a focussed desktop surfer.

    To me, the iWork apps feel a little misplaced for this same reason… do you really want to do concerted office work in these semi-downtime contexts?

  • MrMobiletech said,

    Thank you James and Erik for your views. It's clear that this is a tricky one for us old mobilists :) The context is always important. Even on desktop web sites. We have just started to learn the mobile context, but now, this device…a new context most likely. The question is, how to handle this context? What we don't want is a new workflow handling this context only. which workflow should handle it? The mobile or the desktop?
    Agree with you also Erik; too early to decide.
    -John

  • Tweets that mention Is the iPad a mobile device like any other mobile phone in terms of browsing? | Mobiletech AS -- Topsy.com said,

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  • aaParis said,

    this is just the beginning.

    we spend 22hours a day inside buildings. this kind of "digital-file getter" will be a household item, not necessarily only from Apple, but they coined it the best, as usual.
    we hussle and drag our portable computers around the house to look at films, photos, pdf's, ppoint, ebooks, video podcast podcasts, cooking recipees, write down an appointment, a phonenumber, look up a movie,,, you name it, it has a digital answar as well. the phone just becomes too small for our growing digital appetite when we see its obvious companion,,,,
    we need a digital go-getter, and this will be it for many, some might only use the phone , but the thing is, we'd like to surf or get digital content while we talk to,,,, multitasking ! like the iPad will do in the future.

    a

  • Sylvain Allard said,

    Inspiring read!

    The big change will come when these smart mobile devices will reach the $199 price mark – you'll see them popping everywhere.

    Cheers!

  • Kevin said,

    In terms of Style Sheets will it render media=handheld or screen?

  • james pearce said,

    [...] we've created a useful, valuable tool, said James Pearce, dotMobi Vice President of Technology. …Is the iPad a mobile device like any other mobile phone in …Well, then the iPad is launched, finally. The internet is full of reviews and opinions, so I will [...]

  • Bruno Acar said,

    It's quite simple really:
    What is currently seen as "mobile web" will move towards consolidated technology for device adaptation (size fitting, interface adaptation, LBS). What is currently CMS will move towards media delivery over all verticals, consolidating user experience and consolidated profile management and handle the 2.0 interactive dimension. Both will interact heavily. The fact whether a device is mobile or not doesn't matter much in the long run as Network speeds, screen sizes, etc improve. In mobile the GEO-position is the only real relevant variable and will drive hyper-local context.
    Generally speaking, it's important to realise that for the consumer, technology is irrelevant, it's a means to drive towards an excellent user experience where everything is contextually adapted and fully synched regardless of the device or interface.
    The great thing about the iPad is that it drives the merge between Mobile and Traditional Web.
    Bruno Acar, CCI Europe.

  • MrMobiletech said,

    Well, we have given this iPad thinghy a lot of thought (Thank you for your valuable input, btw). We still feel that we need to try and test stuff more in real life, but we have the pleasure to announce that we are currently working on some really cool stuff together with Escenic regarding the iPad. Escenic and Mobiletech together is probably the best way of handling different screen sizes, interaction models and content for devices. Stay tuned for more :) I promise, this will take your breath away! We will demo this at the NAB show (http://www.nabshow.com/) and mediaXchange (http://mediaxchange.naa.org/)

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