HTML 5 Support: iOS 4.1 Browser vs. Windows Phone 7 Browser

Now that the final v1 Windows Phone 7 is available, I performed a few browser tests using (which is a slick and easy way of testing browser support for some upcoming HTML5 features).

Any guesses which is iOS 4.1?

image image

Biggest missing elements from the IE browser on Windows Phone 7:

  • Input element types. The browser won’t be able to provide a keyboard/input panel that is appropriate for the data being requested. For example, a number field that automatically switches to a number only input pad. See here for some examples.
  • Geo-location. Seriously. The phone has a GPS. Why not expose it? (IE9 doesn’t either unfortunately, but that bothers me less).
  • Canvas. IE9 can do it, why not you? There are so many UIs that can be enhanced by use of a canvas,without resorting to server side rendering and other messy hacks.
  • Web applications (cache). Then, we could package a web application into an offline application and use the browser to drive the UI rather than SL/XNA. That’d be a win in my book as it would be easier to build cross platform phone solutions.
  • Session storage and local storage. See previous point. It also makes using cookies less necessary in some scenarios.

It is a better browser than the CRAP in previous versions of the Windows Phone. But, the bar has been set much higher these days. I’m pleased that typical web sites work well, and that it’s reasonably fast. I can even understand why they stopped where they did – as it seemed sufficient for typical browsing needs on the go, especially given the development team obviously had deadlines.

But with technology moving at such a rapid pace and the adoption of HTML5 proceeding regardless of standards, Microsoft must keep up to survive. This phone will get a lot of “hate” if it can’t adequately browse the web in a few years. Developers are tired of building in hacks to support browser X or Y. This is yet another browser that may need to be supported, if adoption rates are reasonable.


IE9 Beta 1 scores only a 96.


It’s missing Web applications (arrgh), and websockets.

IE9 Beta, pinned web sites

As you’ve probably heard – IE9 beta 1 is available for download.

As part of the new feature set, it includes web site pinning.

So, I pinned Twitter.

I had read about it, and watched it demo – and still couldn’t figure out how to do it without hitting the web site above (as the drag to tab method doesn’t look like it will work until you try it – and the screen shots on the web don’t match what I was experiencing).

What I heard was that pinning would make the web application front and center.


There’s still too much browser though when launching the web site through the pinned icon.


It’s trying to remain a browser window, but also play an “application.” What about providing an option in the meta msapplication-task for being able to control the browser “chrome?” Hide tabs, hide address bar, etc? (Just hide them, don’t make them unavailable).

<meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=New Tweet; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/tweet.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Direct Messages; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/dm.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Mentions ; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/mentions.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Favorites; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/fav.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Search; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/search.ico" />
<script type="text/javascript">

I like where Microsoft is headed with IE9 and the merging of web pages into web applications.

User Experience Failure: “Please check the Log For More Information.”

Asking your users, especially new users, to check a “log” for more information about a problem, especially an installation problem, is like slapping them in the face. Why do developers do it?

I understand that there are unexpected problems with software. But, asking an end user to look at the file is putting the burden of doing software support on them, rather than the software producer. Sure, there are some basic things a user might troubleshoot.

If so, put them in the UI. Not in some crappy log file they’ll need to sift through. Expose the errors as actions and things to try.

Here’s a great example of this going wrong; it is a double slap in this case:


The image says:

“Hi, we have released an update to Seesmic Desktop 2. Version Release Date: 9/9/2010.”


“The application could not be updated. Please check the log for more information.”

Dang, bad on two accounts:

  1. They’re asking me to look at a log to try to troubleshoot a problem with their software. It’s not likely to be helpful, otherwise they should have surfaced the information directly into the UI.
  2. It doesn’t tell me where the log file might be located.

I took a different approach to solving the problem. I right clicked on the application, and this menu was shown:


I selected Remove this application.

As I was curious about the new version, I went to and selected to start the installation. Seesmic Desktop 2 worked. Many users aren’t that patient.

As developers and user experience designers, etc., we can do better.

Apple’s Store Policies Regarding Amateur Applications

From Read Write Web, “Apple Says ‘We Have Enough Fart Apps,’ Here’s Why That’s Wrong.”

Some of the language in the developer agreement is rather strong and very direct. For example, Apple proclaims that it has "lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour."

Apple also says: "we don’t need any more Fart apps," but it couldn’t be more wrong about that, and here’s why.

Sarah (the author of the blog post) goes on to argue that Apple should simply provide better filtering and ranking of applications rather than rejecting applications because there are too many of them.

I agree with Sarah that the App Store needs a good search and filtering tool some times. But, part of the reason is that there are too many applications to choose from, with very little to distinguish one from another! Many people don’t post positive reviews – only negative reviews. Even the review process would need to change for the app store to become useful.

Here’s a perfect example. I’m hooked on a game called Tower Madness HD for the iPad.


First reviewer, 1 star. Slam purchase policies. Second reviewer, counter’s first reviewer. These are the first reviews you’ll see when reading about the application. So, I’m forced to read through the reviews to make a decision. And read more, etc…

Go on and read her blog post and comments. I’ll wait.

I actually don’t agree with her in this case. I think of it this way:

All stores do some amount of filtering before products show up on store shelves. It’s not like every product should automatically be added to a new shelf, along side of the 3000 other choices in the same category. Imagine the Apple Store for example. It doesn’t have every iPod case, every Mac accessory, etc.

A great example was mentioned in this article about Trader Joe’s (a quite popular chain of small grocery stores with good products and good prices).

"The company selects relatively small stores with a carefully curated selection of items. "


Interesting. Sounds like what Apple wants to do more of.

"Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large. Trader Joe’s organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won’t increase the chances they’ll buy."

I don’t see an application store as fundamentally different from a physical store. Maybe there can be more virtual shelves, but there’s still a need for limits. (I don’t know what the right number is, but it’s clear to me that there is a sweet spot). Saying there are 250,000+ applications is just a useless piece of trivia and provides no actual value to me as a consumer, when the average user only needs only a tiny fraction of that number of applications. Even Amazon, which I love shopping at, often is more exhausting now that they host so many store-fronts for other stores.

Search is the key. Google & Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) is more likely to get it right at this point as they seem to understand search better than Apple.

Endless lists of choices is exhausting. Mediocre choices, and limited valuable reviews means it takes more time to select a product. That makes the experience less desirable and tends to leave a bad impression on the consumer.

What do you think? Do you like an endless sea of choices and lots of search and filtering to try to find what you want? Or a limited selection, filtered by the store, (with some search and filtering still)? Are you the type that likes to read other people’s “top 25” applications for my XYZ phone or the type that would rather sift through thousands of choices?