The freedom of mobile Internet access

For a long time now I’ve wanted to get myself an internet enabled mobile phone. Partly to be able to check how well the sites I build work in a couple of mobile browsers, partly to have internet access wherever I go.

I asked for recommendations some time ago, and based on the information I was given I decided to get a Nokia 6680. I’ve had the phone for two weeks now, and I love it. It’s the best mobile phone I’ve ever had, no doubt about it. And using the phone to browse the web has made me appreciate web standards-based websites that are built with accessibility in mind more than ever.

The Nokia 6680 comes with a built-in web browser that actually works pretty well. I thought I would also be able to run Nokia’s new Web Browser for S60, which is based on Apple’s WebCore and JavaScriptCore, but unfortunately it looks like that won’t be available for the 6680. However, since this phone will run Opera I quickly downloaded and installed that as my main browser. And that brings us to the incredible convenience of having mobile Internet access.

Spending some time browsing various websites with a mobile phone really makes you realise how much faster and easier it is to use sites that are built with lean, semantic, and accessible markup compared to those that use nested tables and spacer gifs for layout. And skip links are invaluable when you’re using a device with a screen that is only 176 pixels wide and 208 pixels tall. In fact, it’s made me consider implementing more skip links on this site, especially for jumping straight to the last comment on a post.

Some people argue that browsing the web from a mobile phone is useless, but I doubt that they’ve actually used a 3G phone like the Nokia 6680, equipped with a good browser. I think it’s great. Much better than I thought it would be, even though I’ve been told by friends and colleagues that mobile web browsing is really becoming very useful.

I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but with the massive marketing campaigns for 3G phones here in Sweden it’s only a matter of time before website owners will realise that they need to make sure their sites are usable for people browsing with mobile phones. And that will be a good opportunity to convert to a standards-based design.

Anyway, now I’m looking for other apps for my phone. A good newsreader would be nice, as well as a multi-protocol instant messaging client. I also need to get a Bluetooth adapter for my office Mac so I can sync the 6680 to iCal. Maybe that would finally make me start using an electronic calendar instead of using my brain to keep track of everything.

Got any must-have apps for the Nokia 6680 to recommend?

Posted on November 24, 2005 in Browsers

Comments

  1. Hey, we have the same phones. Nice, aren’t they! :)

  2. i have the 6682 and love it. I am a fan of Fexplorer, AutoLock, and Flashlite

  3. November 24, 2005 by Matthijs

    Good to hear about your experiences. That’s valuable information. And while we’re busy convincing people of the importance of accessible websites, can we start with the nokia site? Maybe it’s me but can someone help me find the page were I find how and where to buy that nice 6680? Talking about accessibility…:(

  4. Add up how many of these babies are on the planet now and technological advances and we’re looking at a platform that won’t be able to be ignored for much longer. The idea of simply targetting the desktop strikes me as a blinkered view of our role but a common one. Apparently 800 million mobile phones will ship in 2005!

    As more and more internet enabled phones hit the street with better functionality we’ll be seeing smart businesses demand delivery on that platform. But larger than that, it blows the whole idea of screen size expectation in design out of the window…

    OK I’d better shut up as I’m preaching to the converted lol. Great article Roger, I’m sold.

  5. Are there any screenshots?

  6. Good news readers are quite hard to come by.

    If you want a good mp3 player (for listening to podcasts on the move, of course) check out http://www.eirikso.com/2005/08/05/using-a-nokia-6630-to-listen-to-podcasts-and-mp3/ - I use OggPlay from http://symbianoggplay.sourceforge.net/

    For multiprotocol chat I was using Agile Messenger from http://www.agilemobile.com/agile_messenger.html but they started charging a little while ago :( I don’t know of any free alternatives.

    If you use Flickr at all, Shozu is great http://www.shozu.com/

    I also use AutoLock http://fuse.stc.cx/autolock/ which locks your keypad after a certain amount of time (which I find essential) and FExplorer http://www.gosymbian.com/fexplorer_new.php which is a file explorer, which can come in handy.

    Other than that, Frozen Bubble http://fb-s60.sourceforge.net/ is great for killing time on long journeys.

  7. Roger, welcome aboard! I’ve been using my mobile (currently Siemens M65) for surfing the web over a (terribly slow) GPRS connection for some years now, and I can only confirm your experiences about semantic pages v/s “old school” ones.
    It’s also great for accessibility testing since javascript just don’t work and I always have images turned off to save bandwith…

    When it comes to applications for blog reading every free one I’ve tried is really crappy, but if you can live with a online service, bloglines.com has a special “Mobilized” entrances where you can read the blogs you’ve added via your desktop browser…

  8. well, I’m planning to WAP-enable one of my sites, darker connection, for some time now. It even gets displayed in my mobile phone, Siemens M55, but not that well, cause it uses lots of tables to show … tables of course :D

    for the WAP-part I want it to display all the stuff with lists instead, because you IMHO cant keep a table-based layout - meaning REAL tables but NOT tables for layout! - for such small screens. It’s horrible to navigate them - so using unorderer lists is the first design choice.

    cu, w0lf.

  9. I use my Qtek S100 and I can only agree. The experience is way better than expected, and I have to concur that good semantic code is the way to go for web pages to also (not only) make it faster, better and a more lean user experience using PDAs, cell phones etc.

  10. I get loads of visitors on mobiles phones mainly because I chose to use XHTML Basic 1.0 for one of my sites - although I never made it for mobile phones - Google likes it hence they come visit.

  11. If you have a 3G phone with bluetooth and a BT enabled notebook like a powerbook you can actually do real surfing on the notebook. I did that with my powerbook and a Sony Z1010 3G phone.

    Man that kicks serious ass!

  12. There are today 4 ways to mobile surf the Web:

    1. through cache databases for race scores, weather, horoscopes, etc. it is not really “mobile surfing of the Web” because surfing is only on the cache, which is a pre arranged process of structuring the raw web and caging it in rows and columns.

    2. through mobile surf. Few people use this option because sites don’t fit mobiles; there are too long or too short answers for the queries; Images are too big.

    3. Through I-mode. Works only on few thousand special sites and doesn’t touch the vast info that populates the Web. I-mode has 43 million customers in Japan, and over 3 million in the rest of the world

    4. through http://qtsaver.dynalias.com/which is the first real mobile surf of the Web!!! It gets into the vital Web micro contents text (not multimedia) that fit the mobile screen perfectly.

  13. When shopping for a phone with access to the internet, I made sure I “DIDN’T” get the cream of the crop. I wanted something “average”… something I knew what most handheld users would be using.

    I thought about the Treo, but that too is even over the top despite it’s flaws in attempting to be cool and import screen css.

    Larger screens (for a handheld) were out of the question. Full blown palms were out because of their price…

    what I ended up with is a typical motorola with a camera, video, blue tooth, normal sized flip phone with online access.

    To this day, from high school students to co-workers to my grandparents, this is THE phone for the people. You won’t find it on engadget or any tech mag…it’s just a regular phone. Consider it the Internet Explorer of the small screen world.

    Now if only I had it with me I could tell you the model ;)

  14. November 26, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Kim: Trying to figure out how to take screenshots on the 6680.

    fwolf: Yes, data tables are problematic on these small screens.

    Dustin: I wasn’t able to find any figures, so I may well be wrong about this, but my impression is that Motorola has a much smaller part of the market in Europe, especially in Scandinavia. Nokia and Sony Ericsson dominate the market here. At least that’s my impression from looking at the phones people use.

  15. November 26, 2005 by Ian Pitts

    I recently switched from a Nokia 6600 (Series 60) to the Treo 650 I am replying on now. I love it. The 320x320 screen is a thinh of beauty and the QWERTY keyboard is an order of magnitude better than T9.

    This whole mobile experience has prompted me to create a dedicated mobile site for my company…

    Ian

  16. Roger, perhaps the best thing to do entirely is to just find out what your market is and go out and get it. That is, of course, considering that you would want that phone anyway.

    With that Motorola I was talking about, I’ve yet to get a desent-sized webpage to load on my own site. Only a handful of my examples show up… and my /about/ page. Everything else I keep getting a 413 error…which i’ve never heard of until seeing it on my mobile phone.

  17. Roger,

    Motorola has a big chunk of the market over here in the US, but I’ve seen quite a few Nokia phones too. Right now I’ve got a 6230 which I absolutely love, even though the external speaker hasn’t worked in months. It’s a Series 40 phone though, so a sync with iCal or the Address Book doesn’t quite work.

    I was definitely interested in the 6680, but I’d be sold on it if the sync with OS X worked well. Let us know how that turns out.

  18. I read this post on my way to work this morning on the A-train. Worked like a charm with a SE T610 with Opera mini. You are very correct that shortcut links is a really need when surfing with a small screen.

  19. A wee list of the applications I like

    • putty
    • profimail far better than the 60’s mail client
    • Forward. I’ve lost the link but it’s a nice little app for moving attachments from media messages to the filesystem.
    • mgmapsGoogleMaps on the go.
    • screentaker for screengrabs.
    • Last but not least, salling clicker

    Welcome to the cult of Nokia: kind of like Apple but more Scandinavian ;-)

  20. Although only using a K750i browsing my own site on it has made me realise i need to redesign my site. As you say it makes you realise just how useful skip links and stuff are :)

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