The wml version of Google mobile search used to have a “Go To Url” option that let specify the url of a website. Google then returned a copy of the site transcoded into wml. The transcoding wasn’t very fancy, everything except text and links was stripped out. Still, it let you view any site on a wml-only phone. Google still offers the transcoding functionality as part of their mobile search portal for both wml and wap2 but the ability to directly enter a url disappeared sometime last year. I’m not sure why they dropped it but I suspect some product manager thought is was too geeky. Eventually, the go to url functionality returned as a separate page, but only for Wap2 not for wml.
I got to thinking about this when I was looking at the server logs for my mobile portal, yeswap.com which comes in both wml and wap2 flavors. I was surprised that I was still getting a lot of hits to the wml pages, almost 50% of the total. A fair number of the wml requests come from countries like Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Turkmenistan – I guess that’s where our old phones wind up when we are done with them. I decided to whip together a little replacement for the Google “Go to url” feature. It lets you enter an address and then calls the Google html to wml transcoder. I don’t know if anyone will use it but at least it’s available. The url is yeswap.com/goto.wml. For users of the Yeswap mobile portal, just follow the menu to Technology/Internet/Mobile Proxies
One nice feature of the old Google html to wml transcoder is that if you pass it an address that returns a wml page, the transcoder gracefully steps aside and passes the original page to you. I wish the Google’s wap2 transcoder did the same when it finds a mobile page.