Regular readers know that I’m a cloud advocate and that I prefer using web services over third party apps in many cases. Of course, that presents an occasional challenge with today’s mobile browsers — very few offer a rich enough feature set that allows me to take the to clouds in my hand. The evaluation Nokia N900 I’m using is an exception to that rule, however. The handset currently uses a Mozilla browser that behaves just like a desktop browser, so it doesn’t force you to use watered-down mobile-friendly sites. You can still hit sites with the N900 formatted for mobile browsers, so you’re not locked in to desktop-style sites.
A perfect example of the N900′s robust web browser is with Google Docs, which I use both for personal and work use. See the above screenshot of the main Google Docs screen? That’s from the Nokia N900 and it looks just the same on a desktop or notebook. OK, it’s a bit smaller at 800 x 480, so maybe “just the same” isn’t quite right, but you get the point. And just like I can on any modern browser for a computer, I can open, view and edit any of these documents, right from the N900. Some document types are editable on other mobile platforms, but the big stickler has always been documents — they’re generally view-only on iPhone, webOS and even Google’s own Android platform. But on the N900, you can easily edit any document with all of the features offered by Google Docs.
Here I’ve quickly edited an old group of thoughts by adding a line and then using the highlighter to call attention to the edit. Using the N900′s keyboard it was a snap to make the edit. The only semi-tricky part was highlighting the text to apply the yellow color. For that, you have to get into “mouse cursor” mode with the device. Sliding your finger to the right from the bottom left corner of the display brings up cursor icon — tap it and you’re now in mouse mode. This makes the screen an entire mouse pad for you to select text or take other actions. Note that this screen cap didn’t capture the actual mouse — it only shows that I’m in “mouse cursor” mode.
How does all of this look on the iPhone, which is considered by many to have the best browser on a handset? Aside from being view-only, it doesn’t even show the highlight that I added from the N900 and there’s tons of scrolling involved to see all of my documents:
While I wouldn’t try to bang out any huge documents or spreadsheets on a handset, I occasionally do have short edits to make. And I’m not always at a full computer when I have the time to make those edits. With the “full featured” browser on the N900, I can do that. I’m hoping that the mobile version of Firefox that’s headed to the N900, Windows Mobile and Android continues this trend because at the moment, there aren’t too many handsets that offer this type of web functionality. Mobile-friendly sites have their place, time and value, but the web — and mobile devices — are progressing to the point where a truer experience is available. Put another way, why would you rather have the below experience, which is the mobile-friendly version on the N900, when you can enjoy it all? ;)