Apple and Responsive Design – How the 'iDevices' Actually Did Change Things
It's almost impossible to imagine not having a mobile web experience now. While it would be the height of 'fanboyism' to suggest that the mobile internet did not exist before the iPhone came out, the popularity of it drve the boom in 'responsive design'.
Responsive design is the practice of creating unique web experiences for mobile platforms, such as phones and tablets. This lets site owners communicate with their customers / readers wherever they are. In the time before the mighty iOS behemoth, mobile web experiences were pretty rudimentary.
A good reason why mobile visits to websites were pretty rare is actually down to the handsets themselves. Screens were small, text looked terrible and using the keys to navigate felt bad. Take a moment to digest that. Using buttons on a phone, formerly the norm, put people off using the web on a mobile!
The increased screen real estate available on the first iPhone opened up the doors for web designers. Websites became tactile entities that users could interact with, rather than blobs of text that had to be almost 'deal with'. Swiping and tapping on pages was a far better experience for users than hammering at a central navigation pad.
Although credit can not be completely given to Apple for the rise in the mobile web, they certainly popularized it. Before the iPhones arrival touchscreen devices almost always came with a stylus or had resistive screens. By bringing out a handset with a decent screen size, solid browser and capacitive screen, Apple made us all want to use the web on the move.
Where will all this go? It's difficult for anyone to say. But voice queries are getting steadily more popular, thanks to Samsung's great work with the Galaxy series of devices. Wearable tech such as Google Glass may even succeed. But judging by recent history smart money is on the rumored iWatch, which may provide an even more portable web experience. We could even see some robotic device that no one outside DARPA could conceive of taking over the world!
If web designers fail to take the opportunities offered by a hugely popular piece of wearable, always online, web technology then businesses could pay the ultimate price. The iPhone bought the mobile web to the mass market, the iPad enabled users to take their TV everywhere without sacrificing quality. What will the iWatch bring? The only certainty in technology is change and whatever happens, good responsive design will be absolutely integral to building websites.