Three things that are broken on the mobile web

In the last few weeks I’ve been using the supercool Nokia 6600 to fumble my way into moblogging, test some new mobile apps that I’m working on, play games, send SMSes, take dorky pictures and (gasp) even make regular calls. In the midst of all of this frantic telephone activity, I thought it might be a fine idea to use my little portable computer to perform some tasks that I do normally, like web browsing, reading email, posting to blogs and reading blogs (via RSS). Nokia includes some applications on the Series 60 platform to do the first two, and there are a few applications out now that let you do the last couple, but it was while I was attempting to install these applications that I realized that there a few things fundamentally wrong with the mobile web experience.

1. URLs are really difficult to type in without predictive text. In fact, I am so addicted to Nokia’s flavour of predictive text that I will often avoid using other phones entirely because their predictive text algorithms suck. Okay maybe I’m being a bit of an idiot about this, because most phones use Tegic’s T9 predictive text system, but still, I find the Nokia interface the most intuitive for my particular texting needs. Something needs to be done to shorten mobile URLs – maybe something like the abbreviation system that tinyurl uses or even a URL-predictor addon for T9. Please! Someone hear my plea.
2. Nokia’s built-in web browser blows. It blows goats. Opera is so good by comparison – it must make Nokia feel like a kid at the science fair who barely knows how to explain where he got the materials to make his project. Thankfully, Nokia has thrown some dosh at the uberbrains at the Mozilla Foundation to get them to make Firefox Mobile (I wish). Seriously, a good browser that’s bundled with the OS can’t be that difficult to crack. But maybe Nokia’s made their browser particularly crap to avoid the type of troubles that a certain other bundled browser company ran into… hmm…
3. OTA downloading sucks AKA J2ME applications need more system hooks. I downloaded this great J2ME web browser called WebViewer from Reqwireless and then thought that I could use this to download this sweet little moblogging tool called BlogPlanet as well as it’s companion RSS reader called Orbit (same link) but no go. It gave me some error message about not being able to download Java applications within a Java application. Great. So, this web browser will let me view sites (pretty nicely too I might add), but I can’t download anything that requires the core OS to be involved. That’s great from a security standpoint I suppose, but fairly crippling from a development perspective in my opinion. But I suppose that’s the trade-off that you make with the ease of developing in Java as opposed to C++. So hopefully I’ll get some mobile browsing going tomorrow. I’ll keep you updated.

Currently bobbing my head to: 2ème Gnossienne from Piano Works by Erik Satie