The Mobile Web
You've undoubtedly seen people staring intently at the small screen of a mobile device, oblivious to almost everything going on around them. If they aren't sending or receiving e-mail, they are probably browsing the Web.
More than half the mobile users in the United States today own a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) or smartphone with which they can access the Internet. Recently, however, PDAs have been overtaken by smartphones that perform everything a PDA does and much more, like making phone calls. In a nutshell, a smartphone is the marriage of a PDA and cell phone. Millions of people who would like anytime/anywhere Internet access are buying them every month.Lightweight and Portable
Smartphones are fast making inroads into the developing world, as they did in the developed world. One reason for the surge in popularity of smartphones is their ability to access information on-the-go. Connecting to the Net from a device that slips into your pocket instead of a hauling around a bulky laptop offers a lot of convenience. You can check your social network, answer e-mail or simply browse the Web while sunbathing on the beach or waiting in line at the market.
But along with the convenience come some significant drawbacks that includes:
- Slower browsing speed
- Smaller screen
- Difficulty navigating a web page
- Ease of handling
When accessing the Web from a smartphone, browsing won't be as fast as with a broadband connection. If you want to do data-intensive things, like playing videogames or watching YouTube clips, you're better off using a laptop or desktop computer. However, if you want to quickly check your Inbox before or even during that important meeting, a smartphone sure comes in handy. Newer smartphones use GPS to deliver turn-by-turn driving directions, so getting lost is a thing of the past.
The small size of a smartphone screen presents a problem for some people, making text and images difficult to see. The smaller screen can strain your eyes, so it's not a good idea to browse the Web for long periods of time. But studies have found that you can tolerate viewing data on a small screen for 15-20 minutes at a stretch--enough time to check your five e-mail accounts and three social media networks!. Of course, a bigger screen offers a better browsing experience. The good news is that the latest smartphones sport larger screen size: the iPhone sports a 3.5 inch (9 cm) screen that displays 480 x 320 pixels.Navigation
Navigating a web page on a small screen requires dexterity. Website developers are well aware of this issue. Some sites are now customized especially for viewing on mobile devices. They do this by eliminating some of the graphical content and increasing font size. If the mobile webpage is designed cleverly, it can fit perfectly into the screen of your smartphone, eliminating the need to scroll horizontally.Cost Considerations
The cost of mobile Internet access depends on your location. For example, in the United States, carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer a flat rate monthly fee. Because the rate doesn't vary with usage, it's a boon to compulsive Internet users. In developing countries, the rate is typically based on usage. For example, in India the rate depends on the amount of data sent and received by the smartphone. For compulsive Indian Web browsers, the monthly bill might be a shock!Design
Not all smartphones are designed the same. If you're planning on purchasing one, be sure to take it for a test drive to determine the smartphone's ease of handling. Holding it in one hand while pressing tiny keys may prove to be challenging. Some people prefer touchscreen devices, like an iPhone, with virtual keys, while others prefer the physical keys of a device like a Blackberry.
There's no doubt that smartphones will continue to evolve rapidly, adding new features and functions in a world that demands mobility. One day in the not too distant future, the primary function of your smartphone might be to access the Internet rather than to call your friend.
Last update: Feb 26, 2010