My fellow Web Developers, I know it’s exciting to work with new devices and experimenting with new interactions, like multi-touch. I also acknowledge that sometimes it’s best to have a special look-and-feel that fit the device. But this time Apple is deliberately hurting the open web.
Yes, you must have heard the phrase “iPhone is the new IE6”; back then I think Apple was doing a great job bringing the web as-we-know-it (kind of) to the mobile, and the cost to develop a separate iPhone website is justify because it’s mobile – a distinct device. Yet, for iPad it’s a completely different story:
- No matter how Apple marketed it, the device is an 1024×768 tablet, with enough screen size to fit regular web.
- Even if I want to build a specific website for iPhone/iPad,
their devices doesn’t use open standard like CSS @media-query to identify themselves. In fact, the way noteworthy companies doing the identification (e.g. Google’s GMail) is by detecting UA string. I couldn’t stop imaging the string
iPadwould one day present in every mobile browser, just like the string
<meta viewpoint>spec was also poorly designed – Apple should be more careful if they intend to establish a new de-facto standard.
- For all the things above, I could just make excuses for them, like I did with iPhone Safari: it’s one of it’s kind, and Apple is focusing on delivering the best user experience they could give (like we all do) – but not for this: the flashy shrine of iPad-ready websites. Apple is purposely asking web content providers to build websites for it’s garden – and guess what, the garden is walled due to constraint above.
Web is the first platform without a vendor. Nobody want to market a term they cannot trademark; every vendor of the market-leading browsers – from NCSA Mosaic, Microsoft Internet Explorer, to Apple iPad/iPhone Safari now, want to make World Wide Web their own from simply replace the terminology*, break the content standard, to moving open content to their closed garden.
Let’s defend that, first by giving your iPhone/iPad ready website an independent universal-accessible address, then demand browser vendors provide feasible standard to address their device capacities. No more UA string hacking please.
* Little-known early history of WWW; Back then, NCSA promotes their Mosaic browser without even mentioning the term “WWW”. This gesture prompted Sir Tim Berners-Lee to fund W3C to ensure the openness of the Web. More stories can be found on his book “Weaving the Web.”