Opera Mini 3.0 Beta 2 is out

I meant to post this yesterday, but then Blogger had some problems and did not log me in. Now everything is ok, so here’s the post.

I read that Opera Mini 3.0 Beta 2 was out. I was just in the process of downloading and testing. I clicked on the ChangeLog page to discover the new features and fixes.

To my suprised I discovered that eventually Opera decided to re-introduce a parameter to recognize the device it’s running on. This was a hot topic on wmlprogramming as more than one developers and service providers did not know how to deliver contents to their users (don’t think only about ringtones, also consider images rescaled to best fit the screen, for example).
Users download and install Opera Mini because they want a better experience on WAP (and Mobile Web), developers work hard on their mobile sites to provide an optimized experience, but with the old Opera Mini this was not possible. This was certainly an issue.
From the service providers’ point of view it was a problem because they could not recognize the device as all were identified with the very same user-agent.
From the browser’s point of view it was a problem as Opera Mini should be able to manage the download, store it and manage the DRM if implemented. Not an easy issue.

I exchanged a few e-mails with my friends at Opera and they understood the problem. Talking is always good.

So Opera Mini 3.0 Beta 2 comes with a solution. Reading from the changelog:
# Added three new request headers, X-OperaMini-Phone, X-OperaMini-Phone-UA and X-OperaMini-Features

But wait… Let me think… Haven’t I seen this before? Something similar… Oh, YES! MS IEMobile! Now I remember! If you don’t, check out this other article I wrote before, new MS IEMobile user-agents.

I know Opera is for the open standards and is one of the most active companies in the W3C, but… this does not solve the problem for developers! Trying to read Opera’s mind in 3 points:

  • Opera is for open standards
  • Opera wants to be nice to developers
  • Opera wants sites to provide the same page to their browser as if it was a web browser and then the client will adapt

For these reasons they kept the user-agent unique for all devices, but added extra HTTP headers (respecting the standard, of course!). Nevertheless, this requires additional work from site developers aimed only at Opera Mini.

What are developers supposed to do? Install Opera Mini on EVERY device and check how the HTTP headers change to discover which device it is?

There MUST be a better solution.
A unified solution among all browser developers should be taken. I would suggest a solution around WURFL, of course, but if this is not possible, well, then even UAProf would be better.

3 introduces X-Series

I just received an e-mail to view the webcast about the new X-Series from 3.

Just 2 minutes later I read from Tom Hume that 3 might be going out of business in UK.

I don’t know if 3 will really be sold and if Vodafone will buy it, but I can tell you I’m really looking forward to see X-Series. In two words, it’s a flat free subscription to access internet services.
According to the site you will have your standard subscription, whatever you picked and you will add X-Series on top of it. You will be able to call with Skype, chat with Gtalk, Y!M and MSN, watch TV with Sling and browse the internet.
This is all VERY interesting. I wonder what the flat free is and if the internet will REALLY be open.
There are only 2 supported devices. 2 high-end devices from Nokia and SonyEricsson. Why is the device required? I am a bit scared that this is another big marketing announcement and then, when you read the details written in the back of the contract you discover that it’s a flat fee to chat over MSN and not for the whole internet.
I also wonder about Sling. How is it going to work in the other countries? What are Mr. Murdoch and SKY going to say about this?

Anyway, if I’m wrong and it’s open internet…. Count me in!

The service will be launched in UK next month and in the other countries in EU where 3 is present early next year.

On a similar trend, Vodafone Italia has launched “Vodafone Infinity Fastweb” (news item in Italian here) that lets you close your fixed line subscription, receive calls to your old number on your mobile, pay a lower rate when at home (even if you effectively receive the call on your mobile) and use a real aDSL connection for internet (and Skype, why not?).

TIM and Wind in Italy both have mobile and fixed lines, what are they doing?

mobile web, make your own standards

Two days ago I posted about MS IEMobile and commented about the features they promote that are not based on any standard, but only on their own ideas and technologies.

Thanks to Jérôme, I found a link on Six Apart that promotes an alternative way to advertize mobile versions of sites. Specifically of blogs (as that’s their very own business).

If you read the article down to the bottom of the page, you will discover that actually this “technology” was already agreed to become a standard!
So 5 guys get together, agree on something and HEY, that’s a standard!

I didn’t think it would be so easy to make a standard. I wonder what the W3C (I know they don’t make standards but recommendations, but what’s the difference?), IETF, ETSI and other organizations are here to do. :)

RSS feeds a-go-go

RSS feeds have been available for quite a while now.
As an old timer Opera user, I have always believed that setting a number (5-7) of homepages would bring me to the sites I visit most often. Then I would browse from there.

Lately RSS feeds are more and more common so I eventually decided to give it a try. I downloaded NetNewsWire (for Mac, of course!) and this was the beginning of the end. The software (unfortunately) includes a HIGH number of feeds. Of course I subscribed to a bunch of them PLUS all the pages I regularly visit. Now I have about 100 news to read every day and if I don’t read them regularly they GROW UP!
Now I’m addicted.

I have to say it’s pretty cool. Some sites offer the full news through the RSS, some other will give you a short description and then you may read the full news on their site. Both solution are cool to me.

It looks like many people likes this new way of staying informed… And probably I’m one of the last geeks to discover this “new technology”.
Anyway, going back to the wireless business, a couple of people already started to port this “new technology” to the people on the move.
Here are the links:
pixs.jp
www.ifeedyou.com

In my previous post I talked about Marcus. He’s the author of pics.jp.
Jérôme Chevillat is the author of Ifeedyou and uses wurfl for the multimarkup rendering.

Both services let you read the news title and the short descriptions, the problem arises when you need to read the full article. Maybe while you’re on the move you don’t need to read the entire article. Too lengthy texts might not be so comfortable to read on a normal device like my V3.