Just had odd discussion about mobile

Via PM… and, well… I had a bit of a revelation given who I was talking to.

We were discussing old pre webkit phones; blazer, Opera mini and the like… For the most part Opera Mini/Mobile isn’t that hard to deal with, but older web enabled phones are a train wreck… Blazer, Mango, Netfront – no matter what you do or how you build the page, they suck; BAD… They suck to support, they suck to use, and they are the ENTIRE reason Opera mini was the bulldog on the block until webkit came along for droid and iOS.

Yet… as outdated and backwards as they are, you’ll hear accessibility and usability experts run their mouths about supporting them – you’ll see developers sweating supporting them nonstop…

When it hit me… and I asked the question: “Do you still support IE6 on your new pages?” – his response was “Of course not”…

Now, while I still do to the extent my pages will still WORK, they just won’t be as pretty or feature filled… The majority of developers have given IE6 the finger and told Microsoft where to shove said finger… when IE6 is still around 6% of visitors.

It’s hard to come up with a ratio of mobile to desktop or to relate the two, but if you go by OS use about a quarter of what’s in use online is mobile… In mobile browsers if we go by netmarketshare’s numbers:

Safari is 64%, Android is 19%, Opera Mini/mobile is 12%… that only leaves 5% free for everything else…

Which means that outdated mobile devices are not as common as IE6 users.

Also, droid capable devices are now well below the $100 mark in terms of tablets and phones, to the point where they cost less than what the cheapest ‘with plan’ phone did five years ago.

Now, I’m usually NOT one for using the statistics defense for saying to blazes with users; but if you are out there saying “who cares about IE6” and are then spending time worrying about anything less than Opera Mini…

Take a deep breath, and do a bit of introspection.

IMHO, as of right now supporting on Mobile anything less capable than webkit other than Opera Mini/Mobile is the same thing as supporting IE6.

Have fun thinking about that.

Yes, I now refuse to test IE earlier that 8, and if it works in Opera Mini, I’m happy with that. The idea of serving up a few simple styles for all devices and then adding in the rest via @media seems OK in theory, but I’ve found it tricky to do in practice, and it’s not easy to test the results and check if it’s even worth it.

Opera’s option of “small screen” rendering seems useful … but I’m not sure what devices it’s actually relevant to. If that’s a guide to how a site will appear in very basic mobile browsers, then it’s a great tool.

NONE anymore… it used to be exactly what you’d see in Opera mobile… seven years ago before mini came a long. Mini gave a ‘closer to desktop’ experience, and they made newer versions of mobile behave like mini, making that no longer an accurate representation.

For testing Mini/mobile since they now both behave much the same, I suggest the Opera mini simulator for casual use:

Mini is a J2ME application, and that runs on top of a J2ME on Java translation stack called “MicroEmulator

Because I’m not wild about enabling Java on websites (funny since I have a java app on my own page!) I prefer to download MicroEmulator and then a ‘real’ copy of Mini on that.

Some other tools that are of use in that regard, the mobile emulator:

and the TV emulator – don’t forget the Nintendo Wii browser is actually Opera:


Cool, thanks Jason. I’ve used the Mini emulator, and have the Mobile emulator installed (although I’ve forgotten about the latter of late). However, I recently got an iPhone ( … hey, I heard that scornful snort! …) but the Mini rendering on the iPhone is quite different from that on the online Mini tool … making me a bit suspicious.

Sorry to hear the Opera mobile rendering is obsolete. I quite like it. I had hoped it might be useful for non-Opera browsers. O well. Makes sense. I’ll check out those other emulators.

Weeeeeird. I’ll support IE6 before supporting strange old mobile browsers. Why? I never had a feature phone, and still don’t have a smart phone. I’m happy if a page seems to look okay on an Android phone… because it’s the only thing I remotely have access to. Meanwhile, IE6 is still installed on a virtualbox so it’s still good for testing.
Where the heck would I get a bunch of old phones?

Gotcha!!! Now apply that same thinking to old versions of JAWS.

Sorry, did I bait that trap a bit too well? :smiley:

Strangely, this is one of the reasons I’m still often supporting IE6… people with old versions of JAWS. When I had version 7, it really only worked with IE6. It stumbled horribly in IE7, and did not work in any other browsers.

Someone once told me a web page I made didn’t work in Netscape. I couldn’t get Netscape to test that either.

I believe one can still find downloads of IE6 somewhere though, right? Looking for old versions of Firefox for someone on the Orca mailing list was a pain though. Someone wanted to downgrade because Yet Another Broken FF Update screwed with their screen reader. Eventually found some dodgy site but it was hard lookin’.

For old versions of software, I head to http://oldversion.com or http://filehippo.com.

For IE6, I load up a VM of Windows XP with IE6 or IETester. However, I have been using it less and less and have just been focusing on IE8+.

IETester has shown enough problems that I won’t bother testing a fickle browser like IE6 with an emulator. I do run them in a VM, but people who want to test would have to get IE6 on that VM in the first place. Similarly, I have older Saffy-windows and K-Meleon and FF on those VMs… some of those, I can’t find versions. For example the guy who wanted to go back a few Firefox versions was using Linux (Orca is a Linux screen reader).

You can play with over versions of FF with this: http://utilu.com/UtiluMFC/

There’s also an IE collection: http://utilu.com/IECollection/

Not sure it works on Linux, though.

Indeed. It has its problems, but with plain HTML and CSS, it’s usually fine. It’s when you start adding .htc files and javascript when things don’t always render properly like in a native IE6 browser.