Mobile Browsers that matter

29. October 2012 16:28 by Daniel Herken

There used to be a time when one of the great advantages of developing a web application was that you simply had to write the code once and it would run anywhere at any time and on any device in the world as long as it had an Internet connection. While that dream isn’t dead, it’s certainly lost some of its allure. Web developers now have to customize their application to ensuring that it runs on a wide variety of mobile devices in an optimal manner. Smartphones, tablets, and now intermediate devices like the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire, and the iPad Mini all have their own variances. If you want your website to create the best possible experience for the customer (which is the goal), you should create test and optimize your web application for each type of device.

For complicated web applications, this isn’t an easy job. Good web development involves separating the front end design from the backend functionality. If you follow this practice, it will be much easier to customize and test your websites with various mobile browsers. However it’s also important to realize that not all browsers work in the same way. Take iOS for instance. The dominant browser is Safari due to the fact that it comes preinstalled on every Apple device. It’s important to remember however that iOS cripples every other browser by design. Recently Google released chrome for iOS, but it suffers from a lack of speed because it simply does not possess the same resources and permissions as the inbuilt Safari browser. Of course the same can be applied to Internet Explorer and Windows Phone. 

Quirks like this can affect your web application in subtle ways that may not be immediately apparent. Which is why you need to perform intensive testing with every major mobile browser out there.

Here are a few that you may want to test first:

Chrome

When chrome for Android first came out it was only available for Ice Cream Sandwich and above. Most Android smartphones are still running older versions but newer devices are quickly gaining ground. As this trend accelerates, we can be assured that more and more people will begin to use chrome as their primary browser on their mobile device. Chrome is now available on all major platforms including iOS. Even though it currently occupies a small share of the mobile browser market, it is expected to explode in usage in the near future.

Safari

Without a doubt, this is the dominant mobile browser in today’s world due to the sheer market power of Apple in the mobile space. Though there are more Android devices than iOS ones, not all Android users have the same browser and studies have shown that currently iOS users browse the web more. Due to the fact that it is impossible for any other browser on iOS to match up to Safari, this should be the first browser that you cross test for.

Dolphin

Dolphin is a relatively new browser for Android devices. It’s available on iOS as well as Android and has received rave use from the tech community. It has several unique features such as gestures that make it appealing to many individuals.

 

Firefox

Firefox is trying to become a larger player in the mobile space. It has its own Web browser in Android but no presence on the iOS market because Apple forces every browser on iOS to use its own specific JavaScript engine which Firefox developers refuse to do.

 

Opera Mobile

As mentioned sometime earlier, Opera may have a miniscule market share, but that market share is dedicated. It has a huge presence in certain countries and its impact in the mobile space should not be underestimated. It’s available on Android as well as iOS unlike Firefox.

Testing your web application with all these mobile devices can be difficult. A stand-alone cross browser testing tool is your best option if you want to save time, money, and ensure that your development procedure is as efficient as possible.

Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera are already available if you use BrowseEmAll. Try it out, it's free!