Chapter 2. Mobile Browsing

Understanding the big picture about platforms, operating systems, brands, and models is important for getting started in the mobile market, but the most important information for us will be which mobile browser is used. Browsers will guide the rest of this book and most of our work as mobile web developers.

Many web developers curse desktop browsers and compatibility issues between them. Maybe you are one of them. But compared with the mobile world, in the desktop world the browser war is really simple: we have Internet Explorer (6, 7, 8, or newer), Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome. And that’s about it. In the mobile world, there are more than 5,000 devices on the market. The good news (compared with this number) is that there are fewer than 25 mobile browsers in common usage—every smartphone OS has its own mobile browser, but the proprietary operating systems for the low- and mid-end devices mostly use similar browsers. Still, the situation is far more complex than in the desktop world!

All mobile devices come with one preinstalled mobile browser, and very few of them can be upgraded or uninstalled. There are some exceptions: the browsers included with iOS, webOS, and Android are automatically upgraded when you update the operating system firmware. This can also be done in other operating systems, like Symbian or Windows Mobile, but up to now it’s not an operation that users do frequently.

To complicate the situation, almost every device on the market ...

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