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WordPress.com certainly "gets" mobile. Two years ago the freemium blogging service broke new ground by delivering mobile friendly versions of the 5 Million plus blogs it hosts to all mobile browsers. This month WordPress launched a major redesign for one of the two mobile themes it uses.
WordPress had been using an older version of the WPTouch mobile theme for modern smartphones and a lightweight theme based on Alex King's WordPress Mobile Edition plugin for feature phones and legacy smartphone browsers. The latest change is that smartphone browsers now get a slick new mobile theme called Minileven which replaces WPTouch. The Minileven name comes from the fact that the theme is based on the popular Twenty Eleven WordPress desktop theme.
Minileven is served to the iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry OS 5 and later, Symbian 3rd ed. and later and WebOS browsers and to Opera Mini and Opera Mobile. Other mobile browsers get the lightweight WordPress Mobile Edition based theme.
Minileven looked and worked well with all the browsers I tried. A nice thing about the new theme is that it will use the header and background images and widgets from the site's desktop theme, which helps maintain a site's branding across platforms. It's not a lightweight theme (average page size is over a megabyte) which might be a concern for those of you on slow or metered data plans.
Minileven is only available to sites hosted on WordPress.com. There's currently no Minileven plugin for self hosted blogs using WordPress.org software although there are loads of other mobile theming plugins available from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory.
Source: WordPress.com News
It's CTIA time and lately that seems to mean mobile browser release time too. Earlier today BitStream launched Bolt 3.0 for Android at CTIA (review). Now comes word from Opera that both Opera Mini and Opera Mobile for Android have been upgraded.
The new Opera Mini is version 6.5 (images above) which is currently only available for Android. Its most noticible new feature is a data monitor that shows exactlly how much data you have used and how much your data consumption was reduced by Opera's server side compression and optimization.
Other changes and fixes in 6.5 include:
- Implemented decoding of WebP images received from Opera Mini servers
- Added a star button in address bar to bookmark the current page or add a shortcut on the Android home screen.
- Implemented import of system (Android native browser) bookmarks
- Reintroduced Protocol (Socket or HTTP) setting
- Fixed UI refreshing problems on Honeycomb
- Fixed problems with Hybrid UI displayed on Tablets with Touch
- Various stability and performance fixes
I tried out Opera Mini 6.5 on a Motorola i1 running Andoid 1.5. It performed flawlessly on this low-spec phone. I was able to open a different desktop web page in each of six tabs with no apparent degradation in Opera Mini's responsiveness or stability.
The new Opera Mobile is version 11.5. It also has a data monitor that shows data consumed and data saved if you enable Opera Turbo, which compresses images and pages on an Opera server before sending them to the browser. Other changes in this release:
- Implemented adding bookmarks to Home Screen using a star button in the address bar
- Implemented support for inline HTML5 video on Honeycomb devices
- Implemented import of system(Android native browser) bookmarks
- Fixed problem with Cookies disappearing during the browser session
- Fixed problem with Out of Memory errors when logging in to Opera Link
- Fixed problem with Flash not working on Honeycomb devices after 11.00 update of Flash player
- Various fixes for font problems
- Various stability and performance fixes
- Cache stored on SD
- Updated Mobile core to 2.9.201 which includes:
- ECMAScript 5.1, including strict mode
- Optimized memory consumption of JS engine
- HTML5 microdata
- New IDNA specification implemented
- Network performance improvements
- CSS 2.1 compliant display:list-item
- SVG optimizations
- Support the intermediate state for Checkboxes
Opera mobile 11.5 requires Android 1.6 or latter. I tried it on an HTC Magic running Froyo (2.2). This phone has very limited RAM (about 30 MB free at start up). Opera Mobile surprisingly ran well and loaded every page I tried on this memory starved phone. I was even able load up to five pages at once before the browser showed signs of stress (it didn't crash or lock up but the history and bookmark menus would no longer open). Five tabs is a big improvement over the previous 11.1 version of Opera Mobile on the Magic where going beyond two tabs would generally crash the browser. I suspect that moving the browser cache to the memory card is what made the difference.
Both Opera Mini 6.5 and Opera Mobile 11.5 represent significant improvements over their predecessors and are well worth upgrading to. Both browsers can be found in the Android Market. For Android users without Market access their are direct download links at opera.com/mobile/download/versions/.
Here are my top take-aways from GigaOm's two day Mobilize conference which wrapped up yesterday.
Mobile payments are coming, but when and how? The mobile payments panel was interesting but I think it showed just how chaotic the payments space is right now. It had representatives from PayPal, Visa, Intuit and VeriFone all arguing for their own largely incompatible solutions.
2015 was mentioned by several panelists as the "year of mobile payments", when most phones would have payment capabilities and most merchants who be ready to accept mobile payments. To ensure the later happens Visa's Brad Greene said the credit card issuer would penalize merchants who haven't installed mobile ready terminals by 2015 by making the non-compliant merchants, rather than the banks, liable for user fraud. Talk about cramming your solution down your partner's throats. Visa might have the clout to pull this off but what I wouldn't be surprised if substantial numbers of merchants choose to no longer accept Visa rather than undergoing costly upgrades or opening themselves up to potentially devastating fraud loses.
I'm also skeptical of the payment and mobile industries getting all the pieces in place by 2015. Mobile payments in the US today are a morass of conflicting technologies and platforms. Banks, credit card companies, PayPal, mobile operators and Web companies are all jockeying for a piece of the pie. I don't see mobile payments gaining traction until vendors can give consumers a single unified message of how it works and way it makes their lives easier. To be successful, users need to be confident that they will be able to use whatever phone they have to make purchases at any merchant and do with greater convenience and no extra costs compared with using cash or plastic.
Emerging markets today represent a huge growth opportunity in mobile. That was the message from Jana (formerly txteagle)'s Nathan Eagle. There are 2.1 billion mobile users in the developing world. Next year China will overtake the US in total advertising spend. In places like Africa, users spend 10% of their annual income on mobile. Jana specializes in helping marketers and advertisers reach users in developing economies. One of their more innovative campaign strategies rewards participating users with free prepaid mobile airtime. Not only is this a great way to reach users but it's also beneficial to the participants. Eagle estimates that devoting 30% of a campaign's ad spend on airtime incentives is equivalent to giving everyone who participates a 5% raise.
Enterprise IT is embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) If the opinions of Cisco's Tom Gillis are any indication, after years of fighting BYOD, the enterprise is now embracing it by securing data rather than devices and requiring BYOD users to be self supporting. This strategy improves morale and productivity while cutting on hardware and support costs. Gillis argued that companies that resist are actually less secure because users sneak their own devices on to the corporate network anyway.
Small dev teams rule. Hit iPhone photo sharing service Instagram grew from zero to 10 million users in a year with a team of just six employees. Instagram's Kevin Systrom credits its success to the team's emphasis on the app's speed and user experience. Having conquered iOS, the next targets for Instagram are the Web and Android.
Ubiquitous computing has ubiquitous reach. If you had any doubts about how mobile is changing the face of technology take a look at Twitter and Facebook. Mobile users now generate 45% of Tweets and 350 million of Facebook's 500 million users are using mobile devices to access the site. According to Twitter's Michael Abbot, the service has 100M users, up 85% in the past year. Twitter is committed to banishing the "Fail Whale" forever and has made more infrastructure improvements in the last 9 months than the last five years. Facebook's Erick Tseng said "We're going to became a mobile company". I think every company needs to.
The Internet of Things is on your wrist and bed stand. According to ThingM's Mike Kuniavsky, there's a new electronics cottage industry based on object oriented hardware components - systems on a chip that implement entire hardware and software tasks like seamlessly providing a connection over any available wireless network or delivering current GPS coordinates. Early examples of Internet of Things products include MetaWatch's connected wrist watches and Vitality's smart pill bottles that remind you with light and sound when you forget to take your medicine and order a refill before you run out.
HTML5 is red hot Virtually every presenter from tool and infrastructure vendors to Web companies like Yahoo, Facebook and Salesforce.com said they had or were working on HTML5 based products. But the biggest news came from Slideshare's Jonathan Boutelle who announced that HTML5 based "Slideshare for Mobile is now available on the world's biggest app store: the web". And that's not all, Slideshare's has completely dropped Adobe Flash, with Slideshare's desktop Web app also running on HTML5.
Kudos to the GigaOm team for a great event. Mobilized featured a great lineup of speakers and panelists, good WiFi and plenty of tasty food. And it has a an uber-cool venue in the architecturally interesting and very comfortable Mission Bay Conference Center at University of California.
Revision3 produces and distributes Internet TV shows which are available on YouTube, Tivo and iTunes and via Android and iOS apps. Current shows include Diggnation, Lifehacker, TechnoBuffalo and many more (mostly consumer tech and video gaming oriented) shows.
Revision3's stealth mobile site at m.revision3.com, which isn't mentioned or linked to on the desktop site, offers most of Revision3's content in smartphone friendly format (320x180, H.264/AVC video, MPEG-4 AAC audio). The videos I tried played well on all my test smartphones, including a Nokia N8 and N95, Samsung Wave bada phone, Palm Pixi Plus WebOS device and an HTC Magic Android phone.
Delivery is by progressive HTTP download so videos start to play immediately on platforms (Symbian^3, WebOS, Android and iOS) that support progressive downloads. The Wave and N95 don't and had to download the full video before playback could start. In spite of their relatively low resolution, the videos played in full screen on all the devices. Playback was smooth and free from lag.
Revision3 is a nice addition to the mobile video scene. There's a lot of interesting, professionally produced content on the site, performance is good and I like that the site's designers made an effort to support a wide range of platforms.
Filed in: Wap Review Directory - Entertainment and Leisure/Mobile Video-Audio/Video
Ratings: Content Usability
Mobile Link: m.revision3.com