I really feel I must write a follow-up to yesterday’s post given that i’ve just spent the morning playing with the Galaxy Nexus, Ice Cream Sandwich, and the new Chrome mobile browser.
Honestly, if you had any illusions of micro-managing the web experience on devices, this new OS and browser will make you cry. Here are some initial highlights of the new browser settings:
- Request Desktop Site is a lovely (prominent) little option that lets users request the desktop version of a site they are looking at. I presume Google simply switches to a known non-m.dot/.mobi/mobile/touch/iphone site (elegant how we name these isn’t it?). As you can imagine, if the site is responsive this option does absolutely nothing. Logical when you know what’s going on underneath, yet pretty confusing for users. Your responsive site will appear broken…even though it’s technically not. Not sure how to handle that one…
- Then come the Accessibility features! These are really quite awesome (for users…maybe not so much for designers and developers…can you feel a trend here)? These consist of all sorts of well thought out and (so far) well implemented settings. My favourite so far is Force enable zoom which enables users to “override a website’s request to control zoom behaviour”. I haven’t tried it yet but I presume this means overriding any custom viewport meta tag settings which prevent sites from auto-zooming at landscape mode. End result…you should now presume some users will see the width they want to see, not the one you’ve optimised/designed for.
- The old Zoom Level settings (the ones I mentioned in yesterday’s article) are still there, but they are now in the Advanced settings panel.
- To augment the zoom levels, we now have a cornucopia of alternate settings such as Text Scaling, a lovely slider with a default of 100% and a range of 50-200%. Then there is the Zoom on double-tap slider, enabling users to control how much the content will zoom (i.e. it no longer appears to simply fit to screen on tap…it can zoom at different increments, which can result in content pushed horizontally off-screen, even on a mobile site).
- Not to be outdone we also have a Minimum font size setting (OMG!!) ranging from 1pt to a whopping 24pt. I’m not sure what the default even was (10 or 12 maybe?) as i’ve already adjusted it and there is no implicit default for these types of things…you just go with what ‘feels’ right (especially as they’ve labelled it points, not pixels, ems or percentages).
- There is also the usual handy Load images setting (now quite prominent as one of the few things in the Bandwidth management section).
- And finally, to make the brand managers quiver there is a Contrast setting (which currently seems to be disabled)…just in case you really need to see those brand colours in super high or low contrast.
When all is said and done, users have totally won this time around. They can now adjust and control just about everything related to the display of content on their device. And why shouldn’t they? The challenge now for the industry is to find that ‘happy place’ where we learn to control far less while still offering much more.