HTML 5 Support: iOS 4.1 Browser vs. Windows Phone 7 Browser

Now that the final v1 Windows Phone 7 is available, I performed a few browser tests using (which is a slick and easy way of testing browser support for some upcoming HTML5 features).

Any guesses which is iOS 4.1?

image image

Biggest missing elements from the IE browser on Windows Phone 7:

  • Input element types. The browser won’t be able to provide a keyboard/input panel that is appropriate for the data being requested. For example, a number field that automatically switches to a number only input pad. See here for some examples.
  • Geo-location. Seriously. The phone has a GPS. Why not expose it? (IE9 doesn’t either unfortunately, but that bothers me less).
  • Canvas. IE9 can do it, why not you? There are so many UIs that can be enhanced by use of a canvas,without resorting to server side rendering and other messy hacks.
  • Web applications (cache). Then, we could package a web application into an offline application and use the browser to drive the UI rather than SL/XNA. That’d be a win in my book as it would be easier to build cross platform phone solutions.
  • Session storage and local storage. See previous point. It also makes using cookies less necessary in some scenarios.

It is a better browser than the CRAP in previous versions of the Windows Phone. But, the bar has been set much higher these days. I’m pleased that typical web sites work well, and that it’s reasonably fast. I can even understand why they stopped where they did – as it seemed sufficient for typical browsing needs on the go, especially given the development team obviously had deadlines.

But with technology moving at such a rapid pace and the adoption of HTML5 proceeding regardless of standards, Microsoft must keep up to survive. This phone will get a lot of “hate” if it can’t adequately browse the web in a few years. Developers are tired of building in hacks to support browser X or Y. This is yet another browser that may need to be supported, if adoption rates are reasonable.


IE9 Beta 1 scores only a 96.


It’s missing Web applications (arrgh), and websockets.

IE9 Beta, pinned web sites

As you’ve probably heard – IE9 beta 1 is available for download.

As part of the new feature set, it includes web site pinning.

So, I pinned Twitter.

I had read about it, and watched it demo – and still couldn’t figure out how to do it without hitting the web site above (as the drag to tab method doesn’t look like it will work until you try it – and the screen shots on the web don’t match what I was experiencing).

What I heard was that pinning would make the web application front and center.


There’s still too much browser though when launching the web site through the pinned icon.


It’s trying to remain a browser window, but also play an “application.” What about providing an option in the meta msapplication-task for being able to control the browser “chrome?” Hide tabs, hide address bar, etc? (Just hide them, don’t make them unavailable).

<meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=New Tweet; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/tweet.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Direct Messages; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/dm.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Mentions ; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/mentions.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Favorites; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/fav.ico" />
  <meta name="msapplication-task" content="name=Search; action-uri=; icon-uri=images/ie/search.ico" />
<script type="text/javascript">

I like where Microsoft is headed with IE9 and the merging of web pages into web applications.

Apple’s Store Policies Regarding Amateur Applications

From Read Write Web, “Apple Says ‘We Have Enough Fart Apps,’ Here’s Why That’s Wrong.”

Some of the language in the developer agreement is rather strong and very direct. For example, Apple proclaims that it has "lots of serious developers who don’t want their quality apps to be surrounded by amateur hour."

Apple also says: "we don’t need any more Fart apps," but it couldn’t be more wrong about that, and here’s why.

Sarah (the author of the blog post) goes on to argue that Apple should simply provide better filtering and ranking of applications rather than rejecting applications because there are too many of them.

I agree with Sarah that the App Store needs a good search and filtering tool some times. But, part of the reason is that there are too many applications to choose from, with very little to distinguish one from another! Many people don’t post positive reviews – only negative reviews. Even the review process would need to change for the app store to become useful.

Here’s a perfect example. I’m hooked on a game called Tower Madness HD for the iPad.


First reviewer, 1 star. Slam purchase policies. Second reviewer, counter’s first reviewer. These are the first reviews you’ll see when reading about the application. So, I’m forced to read through the reviews to make a decision. And read more, etc…

Go on and read her blog post and comments. I’ll wait.

I actually don’t agree with her in this case. I think of it this way:

All stores do some amount of filtering before products show up on store shelves. It’s not like every product should automatically be added to a new shelf, along side of the 3000 other choices in the same category. Imagine the Apple Store for example. It doesn’t have every iPod case, every Mac accessory, etc.

A great example was mentioned in this article about Trader Joe’s (a quite popular chain of small grocery stores with good products and good prices).

"The company selects relatively small stores with a carefully curated selection of items. "


Interesting. Sounds like what Apple wants to do more of.

"Studies have found that buyers enjoy purchases more if they know the pool of options isn’t quite so large. Trader Joe’s organic creamy unsalted peanut butter will be more satisfying if there are only nine other peanut butters a shopper might have purchased instead of 39. Having a wide selection may help get customers in the store, but it won’t increase the chances they’ll buy."

I don’t see an application store as fundamentally different from a physical store. Maybe there can be more virtual shelves, but there’s still a need for limits. (I don’t know what the right number is, but it’s clear to me that there is a sweet spot). Saying there are 250,000+ applications is just a useless piece of trivia and provides no actual value to me as a consumer, when the average user only needs only a tiny fraction of that number of applications. Even Amazon, which I love shopping at, often is more exhausting now that they host so many store-fronts for other stores.

Search is the key. Google & Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) is more likely to get it right at this point as they seem to understand search better than Apple.

Endless lists of choices is exhausting. Mediocre choices, and limited valuable reviews means it takes more time to select a product. That makes the experience less desirable and tends to leave a bad impression on the consumer.

What do you think? Do you like an endless sea of choices and lots of search and filtering to try to find what you want? Or a limited selection, filtered by the store, (with some search and filtering still)? Are you the type that likes to read other people’s “top 25” applications for my XYZ phone or the type that would rather sift through thousands of choices?

PostBox Tweaks

So that I don’t forget how to tweak PostBox again, I’m posting a few custom configuration settings not available in Tools/Options directly that I find useful.

If you don’t want to see the somewhat annoying status and progress dialog in Postbox (or Mozilla Thunderbird) anymore, there’s a change you can make to hide the status window (dialog) entirely.

Sending Messages, Status, Progress


Open the Advanced Configuration Config Editor option found in Tools/Options/Advanced/General:

config editor

When you open the Configuration Editor, you’ll be shown a warning by default:

this might void your warranty

As it suggests, be careful when you make these low level settings changes. Preferences that have changed from the default are shown in bold (preferences could have been changed by a variety of mechanisms, so don’t panic when you see lots of non-default preferences).

Here’s how to hide the Sending Messages status window and instead show the status at the bottom of the message being sent (in the status bar). Using the configuration editor, change mailnews.show_send_progress to false. To quickly find the setting, type “show_send_p” in the filter:


Then, double-click on the row to toggle the Value from the default true to false.

If you want Postbox’s (or Thunderbird’s) delete message behavior to more closely match Microsoft Outlook’s, you may want to make this other change. Using the same technique as above to make a custom configuration edit, set the following preference to false.


When this is set, pressing the Delete key will not move to the next message (down) in the list. It will stay in place.

If you don’t use PostBox, give it a shot here and save 25% off the price!

I bought a family license + lifetime upgrades (back when they had the family-pack option). I’m still happy with the purchase.