Some people have been dogging the iPhone and Mobile Safari as “the new IE6”. The sentiment being that we’re going back to the “Best Viewed in XXX Browser” era. I am unabashedly in favor of this particular icing on the internet cake mostly because we are still living with IE6. :^)
What I mean to say is that having a locked down platform that is guaranteed to support all of HTML5’s new features means that web developers can innovate using the shiny new tools in the toolbox and hopefully those uses will make their way back into web development at large.
In addition, if you give an executive the choice between supporting IE6 and doing up a good iPhone / mobile implementation I think we’re at the tipping point where decision-makers are leaning away from IE6 and towards these newer technologies.
Like icing, however, too much of it can ruin a good cake. I don’t really want iPhone-only sites, but instead good small-screen experiences driving improvements which in turn drive faster and ~nicer~ desktop experiences.
My six month prediction sees an increase in “IE6 is officially not supported” messaging with IE6 phased out for the internet at large within a year or so (ie: one of the major JS frameworks drops IE6 support, makes it optional, or drops active testing against it).
A neat trick you can start playing with now is the following mojo to trigger different mobile Safari keyboards on web pages (nice!) which all devolve into <input type=”text”>:
What’s most interesting is that we’re starting to see some of these features get implemented into browsers.
- <input type=”number”> - iPhone keypad loads with numerics
- <input type=”url”> - iPhone keypad loads with “.com” button
- <input type=”email”> - iPhone keypad loads with “@” sign
Mobile Safari (on the iPhone) was quick out of the gate by adding support for number, email and url. No validation is performed but special keyboards for each input type are presented to aid in entering a value.
Most recently, Chrome 5 beta has support for the placeholder attribute.
And if you want to see state of the art on iPhone web experiences, check out the following:
- NextStop.com - uses geolocation, local caching / storage, in-page ajax
- m.expatliving.sg - uses page transitions, inline flick-scroll, and good URL-hiding
- Joe Hewitt’s iUI - an older, general purpose library that managed to fool me into thining I had Belle & Sebastian on my iPhone when I accidentally left it up on the artist page.
- Edit: *jQTouch - just ran into this one, looks like the jQuery toolkit for apps, lots of neat animations although in some ways it doesn’t feel as native
future present certainly looks bright.