Cell phone suppliers, and especially smartphone suppliers, make a big thing of the Internet access through their systems.
They may or may not tell you that the Internet access doesn’t give you quite the same display as your computer does, though. First, the screen is a lot smaller.
Second, because the data rates have been so slow (not with Cingular’s new "G" network), cell phones began to use WML as their web language rather than the standard HTML.
Some web designers have been created modified versions of their web sites so that a WML-based browser can get a version that is more readable.
The site designers are able to do this because, when a web browser requests a web page, the request includes additional information such as the operating system and which web browser you’re using. If the web site is generated dynamically, it can send their WML version to a cell phone, while they send an HTML version to a computer.
But, if your favorite site doesn’t do WML, you can still visit it.
Cell phones route their Internet requests through a special web server at the cell company. This special proxy server modifies some of the web site’s code and content to make it compatible with the web browser in the cell phone. One big thing that it does is that it resizes images to fit the tiny screen of the cell phone.
For example, my pull-down menu is actually a bulleted list, but I use CSS to tell the browser to show it as a pull-down and fly-out menu. But, on a WAP device, this menu doesn’t work at all. Some of the menu displays all the time (the WML-based browser apparently doesn’t do “hidden”), while other parts of it are not visible at all because they’re covered up.
Will I modify my site for WML? Who knows?
I played with WML a couple years ago to create a web site with a downloadable ringtone, so that I could get the MP3 file onto my phone. Then, I found Motorola PhoneTools, which was a much better solution.
Now, I’ve got an iPhone and know what real HTML looks like on a cellphone. There’s no way I’m going to waste my time converting my site to WML — today’s smartphones have great displays and can zoom on the web page, too.