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Mobile Web

Last Edit: 10/01/17

The 'mobile web' refers to the technologies that enable mobile devices - PDAs, mobile phones, and smartphones - to access the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web was launched in 1991, and it is based upon a client-server model. Client programs, named browsers, use Internet protocols (HTTP and TCP) to retrieve documents from servers (computers) connected to the Internet. The original web browsers and protocols designed for the World Wide Web, were primarily designed to be used by desktop and laptop computers. Mobile devices, like mobile phones, were in their infancy when the World Wide Web was launched, and did not have the technological capability of accessing the web.

However, mobile devices have advanced at a rapid rate from 1991-2014; by 1999, mobile phone operators, like Telfort BV, were implementing the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) into their mobile devices. While WAP initially had it's limitations, it did enable mobile devices to access Internet and Web applications. As the screen size and technological specifications of mobile phones increased, more and more users began to access the Internet and World Wide Web via their mobile devices. This has resulted in the development of mobile browsers, like Android, and has encouraged webmasters to implement scripting on their websites, so that when a mobile browsers retrieves a webpage, the website will 'serve' it with a mobile version of the webpage.

The problem that the original mobile browsers had: was that webpages were designed to be rendered onto a large desktop screen, and not a small mobile screen. Webpages, designed for desktop browsers, usually includes tables that are over 700 pixels in width, and do not render optimally for small screens. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is an international standards organisation for the World Wide Web, has setup the Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) to ensure that guidelines are available for mobile content. The following markup languages, mostly developed by the W3C, are used to develop 'light weight' pages for mobile devices: Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML); Wireless Markup Language (WML); and Handheld Device Markup Language (HDML).

Therefore, in conclusion, the mobile web refers to the: mobile/cellular networks, mobile devices, mobile browsers, and webpages (designed in mobile friendly markup languages); that combined, enable and promote the mobile use of the World Wide Web.

Mobile Web Browser

A traditional Web browser has been designed for use on personal computers such as laptops and desktops. The most prominent of which is Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox. These programs, however, are far too cumbersome to be applicable for use on mobile networking devices - such as:

Therefore, the solution was to design browsers which were dismantled of all but the bare essentials. Thus, the Mobile Web Browser was born. Mobile browsers support markup languages such as HDML (Handheld Device Markup Language) and XHTML MP (XHTML Mobile Profile) - computer languages specifically developed for mobile devices.

Due to the restrictive nature of mobile browsing - low bandwidth and download/upload speeds - handheld device languages have proved essential. However, as mobile Internet coverage has been expanded and improved upon (usage levels which are currently out pacing traditional connection methods) mobile browsers are beginning to support more languages, such as HTML, WML and CSS.

Provided below, is a list of popular mobile browsers,