Nokia’s WebCore-based S60 browser

In June last year, Nokia issued a press release stating that they were going to cooperate with Apple and use WebCore and JavaScriptCore to create a new web browser for its Series 60 mobile phones. Since I am now the owner of a Nokia 6680, which is a Series 60 phone, I found the article An Overview of Nokia’s KHTML/WebCore-based S60 Browser at OSNews.com interesting.

In the article, some of the people working on the S60 browser let us know how their work is coming along. There are also some screenshots that show how the browser works on a Series 60 phone. Another article that contains information from the Nokia browser developers is Nokia Engineers on KHTML, Collaboration and aKademy.

This is all very interesting, and I think it’s great that there will be other browser options for (some) mobile phones than just Opera. Looking at the screenshots in the article at OSNews.com however, I’m not so sure I like the idea of using a miniaturised image of a site to navigate it - Nokia call it “minimap”:

The minimap creates a full screenshot of the web page – as it would render on a monitor that would fit the whole page in it – and with the help of a small rectangle the user can navigate at any place of a given page almost instantly. The page still retains its original design (as the web designer was intended it to be viewed as) and no elements are resized-down.

That kind of goes against what I want when I use my phone to browse the web. I may change my mind on that if I get a chance to try out the S60 browser. As far as I can tell it won’t be available for the Nokia 6680, which is a disappointment.

Posted on January 24, 2006 in Browsers, Quicklinks

Comments

  1. I agree that the ‘minimap’ idea on it’s own doesn’t sound that good.

    Opera mobile currently has a similar feature that allows you to scroll vertically and horizontally across an entire web page or view the site with the author stylesheet removed. I much prefer the latter. Sites that are well written using web standards are really easy to read and navigate and it’s a good demonstration of the importance of the order of mark-up too.

  2. I do wonder how it treats sites that have been designed for mobile devices, and how does it appear to the server that it is receiving information from.

    If it emulates a 1024x768 resolution in order to build the minimap, then sites that use screen resolution to determine the type of device would be out of luck. Also if in trying to get the ‘original design’ it ignores style sheets made for mobile devices this could be even worse than previous generations of cell phone browsers.

  3. This is more or less what Opera Mini does which you can probably use on your phone. However, Opera Mini does support some simple scripting and other things that are necessary to navigate.

    The advantage of making it all a single page on some proxy is that it saves a whole lot of valueable bandwidth and makes browsing a whole lot faster too. Which is nice, on a mobile phone.

  4. I’m curious to see the result. I’m currently using Netfront (for S60) as my main browser. Great JS and CSS support as far as I can tell. I have Opera Mini and S60 native browser, but I use those only for testing.

    The minimap can help users navigate through badly built pages, but to me, it’s not all about the screen size anymore. It’s also about the rates. I’m paying by the KB, so if i load a non-mobile website I’ll download what… over 100kbs? Thanks, but no thanks. Mobile browsing isn’t the same as desktop browsing and it shouldn’t be. It’s a different platform, so deal with it. It has to start from the webdevelopers though…

    One thing, it has to have the option of rotating the screen. A major pet peeve of mine. I don’t mine scrolling an extra mile for being able to read longer lines at a time. How about you?

  5. I am the author of the article you linked at OSNews.com. I will reply below to all of the comments:

    That [minimap] kind of goes against what I want when I use my phone to browse the web.

    I am not sure this is correct. The web is not mobile-friendly, that’s a fact. And so having the minimap, really helps greatly to navigate through a page. Nokia didn’t want to re-arrange page elements on puprose, because many of its customers are getting “lost” in the new layout created by the browser. That was the sole reason they went with the minimap and the rendering of the page as it was really intended.

    Sites that are well written using web standards are really easy to read and navigate

    Maybe. But it’s nice to live in reality, where 99% of the sites are not as such.

    I do wonder how it treats sites that have been designed for mobile devices

    Read the article linked above. I have screenshots there, showing the browser rendering OSNews.com, which is the MOBILE cHTML version of osnews. There is a full-screen minimap picture of it there. (OSNews is one of the very few sites on the net that supports up to 60 mobile/text/handset browsers automatically, without the need to enter a special URL to get its mobile version).

    and how does it appear to the server that it is receiving information from.

    The user agent is listed there too. I guess, you haven’t read the article. ;-)

    This is more or less what Opera Mini does >which you can probably use on your phone.

    No, it is not at all.

    Opera Mini does support some simple scripting and other things that are necessary to navigate.

    No. Except the fact that most of scripting is going away with Opera Mini because the rendering actually happens SERVER-SIDE, the Nokia browser is a full XHTML/CSS/JS browser, just like Safari is. It is fully scripting-capable.

    The advantage of making it all a single page >on some proxy is that it saves a whole lot >of valueable bandwidth and makes browsing a >whole lot faster too.

    If GPRS charges are a problem for you, then yes, by all mean use Opera Mini instead. This is why it was created for! Use the best tool for the job!

    it has to have the option of rotating the screen.

    I can’t remember well from my brief meeting with Nokia, but I think it can do that.

  6. I could imagine if someone were used to the layout of a page on a monitor, it might be easier getting to their desired content via the minimap.

    But I’m not sure. I still reckon specifically targeted mobile services, on really small screen devices like most current phones, are the way to go.

  7. I still reckon specifically targeted mobile services, on really small screen devices like most current phones, are the way to go.

    Don’t forget that this browser specifically runs on 240x320 and 352x416 screens. While the screen size varies from 2.2” to 2.8” on Nokia phones for these resolutions, the resolution used is usually higher than in most phones.

  8. That [minimap] kind of goes against what I want

    I am not sure this is correct.

    …how exactly can someone be wrong about what they want?

  9. how exactly can someone be wrong about what they want?

    It happens when the person who replies is not a native english speaker, so don’t gloat too much.

  10. Actually it makes little sense showing an example of “…OSNews’ unique autodetection engine…” in action and delivering Compact HTML.

    I believe “originally” Compact HTML was supposed to be devoid of the following: JPEG image, table, image map, multiple character fonts and styles, background colour and image, frames and style sheets.

    Thus illustrating the inanity of the example; if the system is so great why was it purposely being tested against a example that wasn’t actually the ‘desktop version’ of site?

    I don’t doubt it can render desktop pages; though having a site do a complex targeted “sniff” and content negation and delivering that ‘thing’ calling itself C-HTML hardly impresses me technically as a good example of a mainstream site.

  11. If you actually read the article, you will see CNN.com pages showing there too, not just OSNews’. OSNews autodetects all mobile browsers, and even if this one has a minimap, we will still offer it the much lighter mobile cHTML page of OSNews. It’s for the better convenience of the user.

    But that doesn’t mean that the browser was not tested with more complex pages that day I met with the Nokia guys.

  12. Thus I would have to assume that mobile page written in that ‘thing’ called C-HTML was devoid of TABLE elements and inline CSS and actually used some form of recognisable conforming HTML subset?

    Alternatively was it akin to the desktop version and using things like FONT and was totally devoid of headings and sprinkled with proprietary code. Forcing some ‘Small Information Appliances’ to perform labour intensive processing or error-handling then counteract rendering efficiency.

    Personally I don’t have access to such a mobile client but it would be interesting to know, which were the case - just out of interest.

  13. I am not sure what exactly you are asking, but I will give it a shot.

    in that ‘thing’ called C-HTML

    It is a w3c spec, written by DoCoMo and Access (of Netfront fame). It is a subset of HTML, mainly it’s HTML 3.2, geared for mobile devices. cHTML is also known as i-Mode.

    OSNews offers a WML/XHTML page on wap.osnews.com and automatically serves the cHTML version when mobile-only browsers are hitting the normal www.osnews.com. The trick to find out which browser is mobile or not, and this is where our strength lies (we are not using WURFL btw, which is the only publicly known way so far).

    BTW, can I interest you with this? http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=13446

  14. March 20, 2006 by Think

    I tested the Nokia KHTML browser. It does not handle WAP content :( and neither did it pick the media=handheld stylesheet on the page I went to. Instead it always acted like a PC browser. This is bad since it does not allow web developer to control the layout using multiple media types!

  15. March 20, 2006 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Think: Yes, that does sound bad. Too bad I haven’t been able to test the Nokia browser. I guess I need to buy a new phone again to do that.

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