Gimped Google on non WebKit mobile browsers?
I don't have a Windows Phone. I've got a HTC One X, and I use Chrome as my main browser. When I heard about the Windows Phone/Google Maps debacle, I tried it out fro myself on my dad's WP7.5 phone. That's when I noticed that the google.com I get on Chrome is very different to the google.com I got on Windows Phone.
*(Screenshot taken on Dolphin, this is what I get on Chrome. More on that later)
*Screenshot taken on Firefox Mobile, this is what I get on WP7. More on that later)
So I decided to try it out on some other devices/browsers. I tried it on an old Android 1.6 phone, an iPhone 3G and Dolphin, Default Browser and Firefox on my HTC One X.
I first tried the Android 1.6 phone. It came up with the same as WP7, so I thought maybe the full version was too sluggish on old phones so they redirect to the old version? Then I tried it on the iPhone 3G, but it came up with the full google mobile site, which worked just fine. So, so far the full Google has worked on Chrome and Safari, both WebKit browsers (I'm unsure what the Android 1.6 browser uses), and it hasn't on WP7 (non WebKit). Next thing to try, other browsers on my HTC.
Chrome, Dolphin and the default browser all came up with the full google.com. They're all based on webkit. Then I tried it on Firefox Mobile, which isn't. Came up with the gimped google.
The only browsers that have run the full google mobile site are the ones that use WebKit. (I'm not even sure if the default browser on the Android 1.6 phone was the actual one, it looked like a shoddy custom job. The phone's a Sony Ericsson x10a, so if anyone could clear that up, that'd be great thanks)
Seeing as google maps was redirecting based on the browser's User Agent, I decided to try changing Firefox's UA. I used the add on 'Phony', changed the UA to iPhone and voila! I got the full google mobile site. However, there were a few bugs.
(Screenshot from Dolphin. For illustrative purposes)
1. This part here doesn't scroll when you drag it
2. The more list you get when you press this button is a little buggy with bounce back at the bottom of the list.
It looks like Google has disabled the full google mobile site on non WebKit browsers because it's a little bit buggy. It's mostly usable though. I can't test whether the WP7 browser has the same bugs when the User Agent is changed, as I don't have access to the phone right now.
So why can't they just fix the site to make it work on all mobile browsers? It could be argued that seeing as though 92% of mobile browsers use WebKit (a number I've seen mentioned on the site, but I can't find a source) they don't need to waste time and money on the platforms that no one uses. But percentages are meaningless without perspective. Windows Phone has a 3% marketshare, however that equates to over 4 million devices. Mac OS X 'only' has a market share of 7% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_systems). Just because the percentage is low doesn't mean you shouldn't develop for the platform, as millions of people are then missing out. And seeing as though google has always been about the open web and platform independence, why shouldn't they try to get their services working fully for the most amount of people possible?
I haven't tested this on all mobile browsers, nor have I tested all of Google's services. Anyone else been noticing stuff like this happening with Google's sites?