Web Browsing

One of the big reasons to own a smartphone is to browse the Web. However, even with the fastest of phones and best of connections, browsing the Web is made complicated by the size of your screen and web designers that didn't take mobile browsers into account. In this chapter, we'll explore ways to get the most from the Web using your Android phone, including use of Android's web browser, alternative browsers, and apps that make browsing faster. We'll also discuss sharing your wireless connection with your laptop.

Before discussing Android specifically, it's helpful to know a little about browsing the Web on mobile devices in general. Web pages are usually designed for screens four times as big as those on a mobile browser, and they don't always take low-speed connections into account. Connection speed may not be a problem if you're connected to Wi-Fi or using a 4G network, but when traveling, you'll often run into slow spots and areas with low cell tower coverage. Web pages designed for desktops can end up taking an eternity to load over an EDGE connection.

To get around this problem, web developers created the WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) standard. WAP sites are designed to load quickly and display well on small screens. You can see an example by visiting Wapedia at http://wapedia.mobi on either your phone or desktop browser. Wapedia is a WAP version of Wikipedia.

WAP sites must be intentionally designed, and not every website takes the time to consider mobile devices. On top of that, the WAP version often loses design elements and functionality in favor of quicker loading times. So there are times when viewing a standard website is either desirable or unavoidable.

Android's web browser is a major part of the Android platform. It can be run as the Browser app or embedded as a feature in other apps. The Browser app is based on the same core technology that powers the iPhone's web browser, WebKit. Apple developed WebKit for use in their Safari web browser, and then later released the code as open source.

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