Chapter 3. Browsers and Web Platforms

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 or platform 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 Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Opera. 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-end and mid-range 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, Windows Phone, Symbian, and Android (up to 4.0) are upgraded when you update the operating system firmware.

To complicate the situation, almost every device on the market allows users to add an alternative web browser, and some carriers, like Vodafone in Europe, include a copy of an alternative ...

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