The second generation of OSNews’ mobile web site is now up and running. The new version has an even simpler design than before which makes it much easier to render on under-featured HTML browsers, usually found on phones, PDAs or other embedded devices. The new design does not display any ads or a sidebar, but goes directly to the “meat” of the information. Read more for info & screenshots. What’s great about the new mobile version is that the whole OSNews data is offered, we don’t cut-out data selectively or only provide a simple special page for mobile devices, but the whole range of functionality and web pages are available (except Phorum and the OS Resources page), fully supported on any device that sports resolution… 120×100 or above! “Fully supported” means that –normally– no horizontal scrollbars will show on your device making the experience smooth. Other requirements are the ability of the browser to render up to 32KB of webpage size.
Readers with a mobile/textmode device don’t have to target a special URL to get the mobile pages. OSNews will autodetect their browser (provided you haven’t change your browser’s ‘user agent’) and will serve the “right” pages. This service does not have any ads and it is completely free (although we might add a text-ad per page in the future, usually small text ads are not bigger than 400 bytes).
The new version correctly detects a large number of browsers, like the following:
PDAs: WebPro, NetFront, WebBrowser, Pocket IE, Blazer, BlackBerry, Xiino, ftxPBrowser, AvantGo (create custom OSNews channel on your my.avantgo.com), iSilo, Plucker, Sunrise, JPluck (special OSNews .jxl file for use with JPluck), Elaine, EudoraWeb, EPOC, Opera for Zaurus and more.
Phones: OpenWave UP.Browser, AU, Nokia, Danger HipTop/SideKick, SonyEricsson, J-PHONE, DoCoMo, portalmmm i-Mode, Opera for Symbian, ReqwirelessWeb etc
Text Mode: Lynx, Links, ELinks, w3m, ALynx.
Embeded: Windows CE, Embeddix, WebTV, Dreamcast & SONY PS2 browser, QNX Voyager.
Other: Amiga AWeb & Voyager, a handful of Atari ST browsers, Cyberdog, OmniWeb & WorldWideWeb for NeXTSTEP, Contiki for C64, some RISC OS & GeOS ones, NCSA Mosaic, HotJava (pre-3.0) etc. and any browser reporting common resolutions below 640×480.
Sadly, all the pre-G3 J-PHONE phones (mostly in Japan and some in Europe) have a quota of 12KBs per page and they completely refuse to load a page that’s more than 12KB, this is why all J-PHONE users will be redirected automatically to an even lighter version of OSNews — a list of 15 headlines will be available and you will have to click through to each of them in order to read the actual news item. We will lift this limitation off J-PHONEs around 2005 or 2006, when all J-PHONE phones will be true G3s and won’t have this (silly) 12KB quota.
Also, (non-Opera) SonyEricsson browsers will be automatically redirected to the same special J-PHONE page as above, because the stock SonyEricsson browser is truly incapable and it errors out when it hits the normal mobile pages.
Additionally, all phone users that use OpenWave’s browser –found in more than 50% of phones out there– UP.Browser versions 4 and 5 will be automatically redirected to our WAP page (only versions 6 and 7 of the Openwave browser are HTML-capable and can render our normal mobile pages).
Surely, some users will rush to change their browser’s user agent to match one of the above ones in order to get ad-free mobile version of OSNews, but please note that while this design looks functional and lovely on a small screen device, it just looks crappy on a desktop browser with resolution 640×480 or above. Readers who would like to get rid of the ads on OSNews and get a 4x faster layout (very noticable on 56k modem) they should consider the subscribed version of OSNews for $20 per year. A static, sample page, of the subscribed version of OSNews can be seen here.
We are looking for feedback and screenshots from your device or your simulators/emulators if you have some! We are of course looking for bugs (pages not rendering right etc) and if you do have an HTML browser that belongs in the mobile/textmode/old-OS realm and it does not load the right version of OSNews (if for example you get the ads and the sidebar), please let us know about it. Visit this page with your device and email us with the exact text string that will show up in that page (case sensitively please). This text string is the “user agent” your browser is reporting to a web server, and webmasters can use this information in order to redirect browsers to the right content.
OSNews already offers WAP services by providing the 10 latest news items, while our RDF xml feed has seen an update recently: we added a “date” field and full “teaser” text support.