With the release of the iPhone scheduled for June 29th and all of the frenzied buyers waiting to get their hands on one, it’s worth discussing the effect this new device and its built-in browser will have on website design and development.
The iPhone will be running a full version of Safari, although reports say that it won’t support Java and may not support Flash. A handheld device with a full web browser has the potential to radically change the mobile Internet experience. Most handhelds today offer a clunky “browser” application that doesn’t even compare to a true web browser. With the iPhone’s release, that will change.
Also of importance is the recent announcement by Steve Jobs that third-party applications will be deployed and run via the web browser. Safari basically becomes the platform for developers to create applications for the iPhone. With a Windows version of Safari also announced, the iPhone becomes a viable target for web developers of all sorts and should encourage greater adoption of web standards.
With all of these people roaming around June 29th using their full-featured browser to access the Web, those of us involved in designing and building websites should be a little bit concerned about how well the sites we’ve already built will perform and how the new sites we’re working on will look.
The good news is that the target browser is Safari. In theory, a website that looks and works great in Safari on the Mac and now in Safari on a PC should also have a good chance of working in Safari on the iPhone.
I don’t yet know how well the iPhone’s Safari will handle older table-based layouts and sites that aren’t built to scale fonts and viewport sizes. From the iPhone demo it appears that there is some zooming technology being employed during the browsing experience but until June 29th rolls around we won’t know for sure.
My guess is that tableless sites that are built with semantic, standards-compliant code will fare better than older tabled layouts that aren’t fluid and don’t respect standards.
Any thoughts on how the iPhone and its full-featured browser will affect the web design and development world? Post a comment below!