7 Web Browsing Tricks Make Your Smartphone Act Like An iPhone - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


7 Web Browsing Tricks Make Your Smartphone Act Like An iPhone

If Web browsing sucks on your smartphone and you can't get an iPhone, there are some things you can do to make what you've got work more like what you want.

Admit it. The first time you saw an iPhone, the Web browsing took your breath away. It was to your smartphone's browser as the Mona Lisa is to your two-year-old's scribbles hung on your refrigerator. However, you don't have to live in a state of envy. If you can't afford or don't want an iPhone, you can improve your Web browsing experience on your smartphone (or even, in some cases, your plain old dumbphone).

The following seven mobile phone tweaks can help you at least maximize the potential of your Web browsing without forcing you to change your hardware or your service supplier. They range in complexity from bone simple to "Danger, Will Robinson!" None of them will make your phone an iPhone -- frogs only turn into princes in fairytales. But they just might make Web browsing more usable -- even enjoyable -- on your current phone.

Use Services Optimized for Your Phone

AOL's mobile portal page points to some very usable services -- MapQuest for mobile devices in particular.
(click image for larger view)

AOL's mobile portal page points to some very usable services -- MapQuest for mobile devices in particular.

view the image gallery
The Safari browser on the iPhone displays correctly just about any Web page you throw at it. The browsers on most handheld devices don't. So what can you do about it? Well, one exceedingly simple thing you can do is to feed your smartphone pages it has a better chance of rendering.

Many Web sites serve up special pages or even versions of the whole site designed to display well on mobile devices. Most of these have "mobile" or "m" in the URL -- like mobile.mysite.com, m.mysite.com, mysite.com/mobile, or www.mysite.mobi. Most of these sites detect the device and browser you're using and serve up the mobile version. But if a Web site you visit doesn't display well and doesn't seem to have a mobile URL, add some of those variations to its URL and see if any work.

Some mobile-related sites offer portal pages that collect links to these sites. For example, AOL gives you a links list of its information services. MSN serves a static page that gives you a little news, weather, sports, and access to Hotmail. Palm's mobile portal for its handheld devices deserves mention for the number and variety of links it carries, not to mention a nice, clean design. (It isn't restricted to Palm devices, either.)

Yahoo defaults to a list of links, but it's a good list -- it includes an online address book and calendar, Yahoo mail, and a very easy-to-use way to get driving directions. In addition to its basic mobile portal, Yahoo also offers Yahoo!Go, a fancier mobile service that's available for only some phones (Palm OS phones are notable for their absence) and does a reasonable job of turning a minimal amount of input into a maximal amount of information.

Google's mobile services are the most customizable and arguably the most complete -- you can arrange news/weather/sports info on the page to suit yourself, and have access to a menu of Google applications in mobile format, including Gmail, Maps (which gives you driving directions), Calendar, Photos (a nicely done interface to your Picasa Web albums), and Blogger.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
1 of 4
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Top 10 Data and Analytics Trends for 2021
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  11/13/2020
Where Cloud Spending Might Grow in 2021 and Post-Pandemic
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  11/19/2020
The Ever-Expanding List of C-Level Technology Positions
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  11/10/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
Why Chatbots Are So Popular Right Now
In this IT Trend Report, you will learn more about why chatbots are gaining traction within businesses, particularly while a pandemic is impacting the world.
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll