Android logo

The Android logo

Google’s Android mobile platform will be released soon, and just in time for my mobile phone contract to expire in a few short weeks. Though my desire (and self-justifications) for an iPhone have been increasing steadily since the launch of the 3G model in July, I’ve recently become more and more excited at the prospect of Android, especially since it’s so close to launch.

It doesn’t take a mobile analyst to speculate that the stagnant, innovation-free U.S. mobile device market– despite the success of the iPhone– is still sorely in need of a shake-up in terms of software, hardware, and perhaps most pressingly, pricing structure.

Though there isn’t a definitive reason to think Google’s entry into mobile software could create such a tectonic shift, they certainly have a reasonable chance.

Now auto-detecting Windows Mobile devices

If you visit this site from a compliant mobile device, you’ll now be automatically re-directed to the mobile version of jasonclarke.org. I’m still working out some kinks in my mobile version (permalinks are not mobile-friendly yet), and of course I also need to add auto-redirection for other mobile devices. But overall I’m glad to be taking incrimental steps towards mobile compatibility.

New mobile version

Last fall, I released a mobile version of this very site. At the time, I wanted something quick, so I used a third-party RSS-to-HTML service, FeedDigest, to port my blog’s feed back into a stripped-down HTML page. As I wrote back then, I knew there was a better way. Here’s what I wanted to implement with an upgraded mobile edition of this site:

A simpler URL: My original mobile URL was http://mobile.jasonclarke.org. While this is something (and I stress something) of a standard, I felt the domain was too long too ‘disconnected’ from the brand of my main site. So I chose to go with jasonclarke.org/m (something else of a standard), as I hope it will be easier and quicker to type.

A better back-end: As I said, my initial implementation was lacking. Relying on (even a great) third-party service isn’t entirely optimal, especially with the excellent WordPress as my blog software. Now, the new version relies on WordPress’ native custom templates, and a doubling of the WordPress loop, to create a stripped-down, mobile page that automatically grabs posts directly from my database rather than porting them through a third-party. Even better, I have direct, integrated control of the page via my WordPress admin area, either via editing the page itself or editing my templates within the Presentation editor. This beats my old system, where I had to get at the separate mobile domain via straight FTP.

In addition to these WordPress hacks, I also made a variety of modifications to my theme files (header and footer, specifically), to detect via a variable whether or not a particular page is defined as “mobile” (as opposed to standard). This way, I can utilize single headers and footers for both types of sites without having to create nominally different versions of my theme’s headers and footers just for my mobile site.

So if you’re a mobile web user, check out http://jasonclarke.org/m and let me know what you think.