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The mobile browser usually connects via a cellular network, or increasingly via Wireless LAN, using standard HTTP over TCP/IP and displays web pages written in HTML, XHTML Mobile Profile (WAP 2.0), or WML (which evolved from HDML). WML and HDML are stripped-down formats suitable for transmission across limited bandwidth, and wireless data connection called WAP. In Japan, DoCoMo defined the i-mode service based on i-mode HTML, which is an extension of Compact HTML (C-HTML), a simple subset of HTML.
WAP 2.0 specifies XHTML Mobile Profile plus WAP CSS, subsets of the W3C's standard XHTML and CSS with minor mobile extensions.
A British company, STNC Ltd., developed a microbrowser (HitchHiker) intended to present the entire device UI in 1997. The demonstration platform for this microbrowser (Webwalker) had 1 MIPS total processing power. This was a single core platform, running the GSM stack on the same processor as the application stack. In 1999 STNC was acquired by Microsoft and HitchHiker became Microsoft Mobile Explorer 2.0, not related to the primitive Microsoft Mobile Explorer 1.0. HitchHiker is believed to be the first microbrowser with a unified rendering model, handling HTML and WAP along with ECMAScript, WMLScript, POP3 and IMAP mail in a single client. Although it was not used, it was possible to combine HTML and WAP in the same pages although this would render the pages invalid for any other device. Mobile Explorer 2.0 was available on the Benefon Q, Sony CMD-Z5, CMD-J5, CMD-MZ5, CMD-J6, CMD-Z7, CMD-J7 and CMD-J70. With the addition of a messaging kernel and a driver model, this was powerful enough to be the operating system for certain embedded devices. One such device was the Amstrad e-m@iler and e-m@iler 2. This code formed the basis for MME3.
Released in 2001, Mobile Explorer 3.0 added iMode compatibility (cHTML) plus numerous proprietary schemes. By imaginatively combining these proprietary schemes with WAP protocols, MME3.0 implemented OTA database synchronisation, push email, push information clients (not unlike a 'Today Screen') and PIM functionality. The cancelled Sony Ericsson CMD-Z700 was to feature heavy integration with MME3.0. Although Mobile Explorer was ahead of its time in the mobile phone space, development was stopped in 2002.
Opera Software pioneered with its Small Screen Rendering (SSR) and Medium Screen Rendering (MSR) technology. The Opera web browser is able to relayout regular web pages for optimal fit on small screens and medium-sized (PDA) screens. It was also the first widely available mobile browser to support Ajax and the first mobile browser to pass ACID2 test.
Popular mobile browsers
Distinct from a mobile browser is a web-based emulator, which uses a "Virtual Handset" to display WAP pages on a computer screen, implemented either in Java or as an HTML transcoder. These browsers include Wapjag, TT, Waptiger and Superwap.
The following are some of the more popular mobile browsers. Some mobile browsers are really miniaturized Web browsers, so some mobile browser companies also provide browsers for desktop and laptop computers.
Default browsers used by major mobile phone and PDA vendors
|Browser||Creator||FOSS||Current layout engine||Software license||Notes|
|jB5 Browser||Comviva||No||jB5 Browser Engine||proprietary||Linux, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and Brew platforms. jB5 Profiles addresses all segments of phones - Feature Phone and Smartphone.|
|Polaris browser||Infraware Inc||No||Lumi||proprietary||Samsung, LG Electronics and other Smartphone and cellular phone in Korea, China, USA, etc|
|Kindle Basic Web||Amazon.com||No||NetFront||proprietary||-|
|Android browser||Yes||WebKit||Apache 2.0 and GPL v2||-|
|BlackBerry Browser||Research in Motion||No||Mango||proprietary||-|
|Blazer||Palm||No||NetFront||proprietary||installed on all newer Palm Treos and PDAs|
|Firefox for mobile||Mozilla||Yes||Gecko||MPL 1.1 or later, GNU GPL 2.0 or later, GNU LGPL 2.1 or later||Currently released for Nokia Maemo and in development for Windows Mobile and Android|
|Internet Explorer Mobile||Microsoft||No||-||proprietary||-|
|Iris Browser||Torch Mobile Inc.||?||WebKit||proprietary||Acquired by Research in Motion - No longer supports Windows Mobile or Linux|
|Myriad Browser (Previously Openwave Mobile Browser)||Myriad Group||No||Fugu (Next version to use WebKit)||proprietary||Acquired from Openwave in 2008|
|NetFront||ACCESS Co., Ltd.||No||NetFront||proprietary||-|
|Nokia Series 40 Browser||Nokia||No||WebKit||proprietary||-|
|Obigo Browser||Obigo AB||No||-||proprietary||100% owned by Teleca AB|
|Opera Mobile||Opera Software||No||Presto||proprietary||Capable of reading HTML and reformat for small screens, installed on many phones|
|PlayStation Portable web browser||Sony||No||NetFront||proprietary|
|Safari||Apple Inc||No||WebKit||proprietary||on iPhone and iPod Touch|
|Skyfire Mobile Browser||Skyfire||No||Gecko||proprietary||Renders Flash 10, Ajax and Silverlight content. Currently supports Windows Mobile 5/6.x,Symbian S60 3rd & 5th Edition platforms (Touch/Non-Touch).|
|NetSailor Browser||Fantalog Interactive||No||proprietary||Convergence Web Browser for the expression of Multi-media in Korea|
|uZard Web||Logicplant Co., Ltd.||No||MoRDAC (Mobile oriented Remote Display and Control)||proprietary||on Samsung, LG Electronics and other smartphones and cellular phones in Korea|
|Vision Mobile Browser||Novarra||?||proprietary||?||-|
|Web Browser for S60||Nokia||?||WebKit||?||-|
|Browser||Creator||FOSS||Current layout engine||Software license||Notes|
- BOLT browser beta from Bitstream Inc., WebKit based client/server browser for J2ME phones of all types including BlackBerry smartphones; renders full web pages
- Deepfish Beta from Microsoft, proxy-rendering browser (retired).
- Firefox for mobile by Mozilla Foundation.
- JOCA by InteracT!V, another proxy-rendering free software.
- Links2 on the Playstation Portable (requires custom firmware)
- Minimo by Mozilla Foundation (based on Gecko).
- Vision Mobile Browser (web browser) by Novarra
- Opera Mini by Opera Software - supports most features of stand-alone Opera, but can run on less capable phones by offloading memory-intensive rendering to proxy server (based on Opera Mobile running on a server).
- Opera Mobile by Opera Software - supports all modern web standards supported by desktop browsers, including XHTML, CSS2 and Ajax. Has advanced Small Screen Rendering that adapts regular pages to small screen (proprietary).
- Pixo by Sun Microsystems (Pixo acquired by Sun July 2003)
- Skyfire Skyfire just announced 1.0. Supports Flash and Ajax and allows a fully functional PC web-like experience.
- Teashark - a free Java-based browser with a desktop-like layout
- ThunderHawk by Bitstream Inc. (Marlborough, MA)
- UCWEB by UCWEB Technology
- WinWAP by Winwap Technologies
Mobile HTML transcoders
Mobile transcoders reformat and compress web content for mobile devices and must be used in conjunction with built-in or user-installed microbrowsers. The following are several leading mobile transcoding services.
- Novarra Vision Mobile Server
- Skweezer - used by Orange, Etisalat, JumpTap, Medio, Miva, and others
- Opera Mini
- ↑ http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=wireless+portal&i=54781,00.asp
- ↑ [http://www.pencomputing.com/archive/PCM_11/nethopper.html "NetHopper 2.0 First true web browser for Newton"]. PenComputing Magazine. 2006. http://www.pencomputing.com/archive/PCM_11/nethopper.html. Retrieved October 13 2009.
- ↑ "About Openwave". Openwave. 2009. http://www.openwave.com/us/about_openwave/. Retrieved February 26 2009.
- ↑ "The Weather Underground brings weather service to mobile phone user". The Weather Underground. 1997. http://www.wunderground.com/about/pr/news.asp?date=19970513. Retrieved February 26 2009.
- ↑ "Myriad Browser V9 Datasheet". Myriad Group. 2009. http://www.myriadgroup.com/assets/Datasheets/Myr_browser_mobBrows.pdf. Retrieved February 26 2009.
- ↑ http://www.forum.nokia.com/Technology_Topics/Device_Platforms/Series_40/
- W3C Mobile Web Initiative — “The Mobile Web Initiative's goal is to make browsing the Web from mobile devices a reality”, explains Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the Web.
- Compact HTML for Small Information Appliances — W3C NOTE 9 February 1998
- Open Mobile Alliance
- Blackberry Browser Developer site