DeviceAtlas

Filed under: mobile — jaydublu @ 1:13 pm

So dotMobi have finally launched their mobile device database offering as discussed by Andrea Trassati at the Future of Mobile event a few months back.

Called DeviceAtlas, it claims ‘to become the world’s most comprehensive source of mobile device information.’

Other than a slightly daunting looking licencing model, and potentially more data contributed directly from manufacturers, I don’t see much of a difference from WURFL, and that’s a project I really like.

Of course I should give the thing a go first to make an informed decision, and that’s something I hope to do in the near future.

WURFL DB

Filed under: mobile — jaydublu @ 3:21 pm

In Luca Passani’s post on wmlporgramming he announces the launch of WURFL DB:

“People of WURFL, it’s with great pleasure that I announce the WURFL public interface (AKA WURFLDB) … The basic idea is that everyone will be able to look at the latest WURFLdata about specific devices, while some will also be able to contribute and download a newer WURFL right away.”

As well as being a browsable interface to the latest WURFL data, and the new home of the latest xml file, there’s also the ability to become a contributor to the database.

Luca has done a grand job bringing it this far, but a job of this scope is more than one man can do alone, and releasing this tool to allow the chore to be spread about the community has to be a good thing.

If I feel I can do anything useful, I’m in!

iPod Touch

Filed under: mobile,review — jaydublu @ 6:31 pm

I finally got my hands on the iPod Touch I got the team for R&D – cheaper than an iPhone – and have spent a bit of time with it myself.

First thing I should say is that dissapointingly I find I really, really like it – it’s a stunning device that’s hard to fault; at least inital impressions are that way.

It’s a perfect size and weight, screen is clear and bright, and as for the ‘touch’ user interface – well what can I say other than ‘wow!‘?

I’ve played a bit with the music and video playing capabilities, and they’re just stunning, but most of my attention has been, unsurprising, on the browser.

Despite my initial shock that the thing won’t accept xhtml-mp markup, so although it is a mobile device you can’t treat it as such (at least not the way I’d like to with a custome xhtml-mp view of a site) I can see a way past that as it makes a pretty fair stab at rendering the full site. With the zooming feature – the double tapping is just genius – and wifi connectivity meaning the bandwidth isn’t much of an issue, it really is feasible to browse most sites in the full fat version without needing a slimmed down markup.

But, if the site hasn’t been sympathetically designed – and the one big irritant is lines of text that are too long to be able to read in one screenfull so you have to keep scrolling backwards and forwards – it’s easy to get less than satisfied. And if you’re on an iPhone with limited (and expensive) bandwidth optimised graphics etc. wuold be a big bonus. And having seen sites specifically designed for the iPhone e.g. iphone.facebook.com – they’re just so much nicer to use than the full one.

I’m working on a concept proving site at the moment from first principles, using tera-wurfl for device detection, and Smarty templates to deliver different styling of the same content to different devices. I’ve not yet settled on my preferred approach but when I do I’ll publish it somewhere.

One thing is for certain – I’m now more comfortable with the idea that you don’t treat iPhone (or iPod Touch) the same as a ‘normal’ phone, but don’t think you should ignore it either and feed it a site designed for big screens.

Future of Mobile

Filed under: mobile,review — jaydublu @ 6:44 pm

Future of Mobile, London IMAX Cinema, 14th November 2007

The fact that I didn’t have a laptop with me is partly why this post is a bit late, the other is how long it’s taken me to sort out my longhand scribbled notes. So the fact that I didn’t blog from my phone on the train on the way home may indicate the Future of Mobile is ‘not yet’

Hats off to Ryan and all at Carsonified for another excellent conference – I feel privileged to be able to attend these things in my home country rather than having to read about happenings in the States. It was a thought provoking and informative, if long day.

So what did I ‘take home’?

One Web – the future of te Internet is mobile. Adapt the experience to exploit device capabilities maintaining thematic consistency across all the various ‘screens’ (PC / mobile / TV etc.)

Standards are crucial – but some people are stubbornly doing their own thing.

iPhone will revolutionise the market – not just because of the UI / design, but because it’s setting new consumer expectations of mobile devices as more than a phone, and challenging the established mobile business model (carriers / operators control)

Convergence is an assumption – actual usage is multiple specific devices for specific tasks (e.g. phone, Blackberry, satnav each with a SIM) and different people want different things maintaining fragmentation.

Platforms are maturing – including the upcoming Open Handset Alliance. Diverse but maturing.

Exploit device potential – rich user experience not lowest common denominator – media query / WURFL / W3C core vocabulary. Mobile web experience is still poor ‘like kissing a girl who’s leaning away from you’ (Tony Fish)

Content may be King but context rules – location based services still unjustified hype, mobile search results are poor, massive security / privacy concerns.

But overriding all of that – due to the sheer scale of the market (more than the whole population of China) the potential for a successful application is massive.

As John Connor said: ‘I can’t help you with what you must soon face, except to say that the future is not set.

It’s all to play for!

dotMobi developing their own WURFL?

Filed under: mobile — jaydublu @ 1:09 pm

I’ve not been keeping up with the news as much as I should have, nor my R&D, which is why I’ve missed until now the news that dotMobi have appointed Andrea Trasatti as Director of Device Initiatives (how many people claim that as their job title?) with the goal of developing a ‘global mobile phone database for developer community’

Andrea certainly has a suitable pedigree – having been co-founder of WURFL, an active participant in the W3C Mobile Web Initiative’s Device Descriptions Working Group, and I’ve used some of his PHP code in my tinkering with mobile device detection. In his inaugural blog posting, he says “We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, but we want to learn from past experiences and then try to make some steps forward. When the meeting started everyone had a number of ideas that did not really seem to work out very well with each other. I have to say that after two days drawing on a blackboard, talking, writing notes and sharing ideas, we have come to a very interesting solution. … I am very excited about all the features we have thought so far and I am confident that most developers will be BLOWN AWAY by the software that we are going to build.

I’ll follow this development with interest – but my first questions are ‘What will this do that WURFL doesn’t?‘ and ‘What will this mean to WURFL‘?

I have to say I’m immediately suspicious of a corporate entity trying to do something in an Open Source sort of way – it may get swallowed up in bureaucracy, or it may be that the commercial drivers make it a great tool.