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Dispatches from members of the W3C Mobile Web Initiative Team

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Video on Mobile Web and accessibility — 16 October 2008 is a French Web site that publishes video tutorials on accessibility, and they interviewed me a few weeks ago on the relationship between designing web sites for people with disabilities and for mobile devices.

Watch the video on their site (with subtitles for those who can read written French better than they can understand spoken French).

Screenshot of the video

by Dominique Hazael-Massieux in Current state Permalink

"Something else" is still the Web — 16 September 2008

A year ago, Dom wrote a short series of posts in this blog (see Blue Sky Mobile Web Series) that started with If only I had a magic wand. Are we there yet? Yes. No. Yes! No! Our mobile device is always by our side, always on, (almost!) always connected, and its list of features keeps growing both in terms of hardware (camera, microphone, GPS, accelerometers, RFID readers, WIFI) and in terms of software (Web browsers, games, applications, social networks), but we're still in the exploration phase, trying new ideas, missing a few APIs to access the devices capabilities, struggling with fragmentation, wondering how to mix things together, fearing security issues. Our mobile device is a magic wand, but we still need to unleash its power!

How does the Web fit in an unleashed device? Why do I even ask the question? Well...

Two weeks ago, I attended the Mobile Internet User eXperience workshop (MIUX'08), held during the MobileHCI conference in Amsterdam. The workshop was organized by Virpi Roto from Nokia Research Center, and Eija Kaasinen, from VTT, Technical Research Centre of Finland. 17 participants from various companies, universities and in-between (W3C typically fits in this oddly-named category) sat around the table, presented stuff and discussed.

Let me present a few points raised during the workshop before I get back to the initial topic. Hopefully, it should make sense in the end ;-)

  • iPhone users access the Web more often than non-iPhone users, but they do not exhibit any significant change in motivations and behaviors, according to a US study from Motricity and the University of Washington (short paper available in PDF format)
  • the same study shows that the Mobile Web is not a direct replacement to PC Web. It is used as a complement: most of the time, to "check for updates" (news, mails), or to take a quick decision (restaurant, directions)
  • mobile devices are not used for transactions (in EU and US). It should be in the future, but users simply don't trust their devices enough to pay with them today.
  • mobile devices are becoming this global data producer tool, able to take a snapshot of a moment tagged with contextual information.
  • since the primary use of mobile devices is focused, widgets and other small applications are likely to replace regular browsing experiences
  • the Web is not perceived as totally connected with these new needs and uses
  • something else is needed, and this something else is likely to come from mobile devices, because of their central place in our lives, because 1.8 billion people in emerging countries simply never used anything else, because mobile devices now are given to children before computers

Although that is probably more the way I perceived it than the position of the other participants of the workshop, the need for something else coupled with the other points mentioned above seemed to entail that the Web is not the answer on mobile devices.

I think it still is. Not the old Web, i.e. static Web pages designed for human consumption on a browser, but a Web of data designed for ubiquitous use. Both directions are followed by the W3C within the Semantic Web Activity and the Ubiquitous Web Domain. More work is needed to enable the development or real Web applications, in particular to standardize the access to various devices capabilities, the way user interfaces are defined, and to make sure that security is handled with care so that users simply trust their devices. The Web is evolving to hopefully meet the need for something else, connecting things, data, and people.

It doesn't mean that something else will be defined, but merely that it will be possible. Suppose you had a magic wand... what would you do with it?

by Francois Daoust in Looking forward, Current state Permalink

MWI Sponsors Mobile Widgets Camp — 14 August 2008

The MWI is co-sponsoring the Mobile Widgets Camp in Austin Texas next month. The Camp will mix ad-hoc BarCamp-style sessions with some more traditional presentations, all focused on mobile widgets. The Camp will provide a great opportunity for mobile widget enthusiasts to take in some great talks, view demos, and learn, share and discuss mobile widgets with like minded folks. The event kicks off at 10 am on Sunday, 7 September and lasts all day. For more details, and to register (space is limited!), please visit:
The Mobile Widgets Camp is organized by Dan Appelquist of Mobile Monday Londay (and Vodafone, as well as esteemed co-chair of the MWI Best Practices Working Group), and Enrique Ortiz of Mobile Monday Austin. The Camp is sponsored by the W3C Mobile Web Initiative, the Open Mobile Terminal Platform, The University of Texas / Austin Technology Incubator, Freescale and Vodafone.
by Matt Womer in News, Events, Current state Permalink

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Contacts: Dominique Hazael-Massieux