Category Archives: Site Reviews
Originally published in 2009, this post is updated regularly with the latest workarounds for viewing the desktop versions of mobile sites in mobile browsers.
Last update 9-Jul-2013: Added workarounds for Google Calendar, Outlook.com and Techdirt. Updated the Yahoo Mail workaround. Removed the Google Reader workaround because Google Reader has been shut down. Removed Engadget as it no longer has a separate mobile site. Removed Twitter and ESPN workarounds as they don't work any more.
One of the biggest frustrations of using the web with mobile browsers is web sites that force them to use dumbed down mobile versions. I have nothing against mobile sites, obviously. I build them and I write about them here at Wap Review. It's not redirecting mobile browsers to the mobile versions of sites that bothers me. The problem is with mobile sites that lack essential features or content found in the equivalent full web versions and don't offer users an easy way to view the full version. As I've been preaching for years, every mobile site needs to include a Full Version link.
Fortunately many mobile sites now include a link to the full version. For sites that don't it's possible to force the full-web versions of some sites in mobile browsers by using a special URL.
Here's a list of websites where getting to the full version with mobile browsers is harder than it should be along with a workaround. Note that the the ful version may not work well or at all in your mobile browser. But if there's a feature or content you like that's missing from the mobile site, it's worth trying the full version.
Orkut: Has a link to the full version at the bottom of most mobile pages. Or you can go directly to it by using the URL: www.orkut.com/Home.
Yahoo Mail is a special case. us.mc1137.mail.yahoo.com/mc/welcome?ymv=0 loads the full version of Yahoo Mail. The "Basic" version of Yahoo Mail works wells in Opera Mini. However the "New" Yahoo Mail doesn't. Switching back to the basic version also seems to impossible in Opera Mini, you have to find a PC to do it.
- Log into your Yahoo Mail with a PC browser. Click the "Gear" icon at the top right corner of the page and choose options.
- At the bottom of the Options page, under "Advanced - Switch Now" select Basic. Click the Save button.
- Launch your mobile browser and go to us.mc1137.mail.yahoo.com/mc/welcome?ymv=0 and you should be in basic Yahoo Mail..
More full version direct links:
Google Calendar: https://www.google.com/calendar/render?tab=mc
Google News: news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn
Wall Street Journal: online.wsj.com/home-page
Hall of Shame: There are a few sites that stubbornly refuse to let Opera Mini users view their full web version.
- ESPN: No full site link and the workaround that worked for years no longer does.
- Picassaweb and Google+: These two sites are exceptions to Google's generally good job of providing links to the "Classic" non-mobile versions.
- Twitter: recently removed the full site links its mobile version and the old workarounds no longer work.
If you find workarounds for other sites that are blocking mobile users from their full-web versions please leave a comment and I'll add your discoveries to this post.
For problem sites try changing your browser's user agent
Web sites are able to tell that you are using a mobile browser by reading the HTTP User-Agent header that browsers send. Some mobile browsers let you change the User-Agent to spoof the site into thinking your are using a desktop browser. Here are the browsers that I know about that allow changing the User Agent and how to do it.
Android browser: On most Android phones you can enable a hidden UAString menu item by typing about:debug in the URL bar and pressing Enter. Nothing will seem to change but if you go to Settings and scroll all the way to the bottom you'll see the UASting option. It lets you choose between an Android, Desktop, iPhone or iPad User-Agent
Opera Mobile on Symbian and Android: A User Agent option in the Advanced Settings menu lets you choose between mobile and desktop versions.
UC Browser: Most versions have a User Agent option in the Settings or Settings > Network menu. In some versions it's labeled "Website Preference".
This week the popular presentation sharing site SlideShare launched a mobile Webapp. Which is something I'm really excited about. If you're ever clicked a link in Twitter or an email using your mobile browser or iPad and found yourself on Slideshare's old non-mobile friendly Flash based site I think you will welcome the change too.
According to SlidesShare the new mobile site supports the iPhone, iPad and Android devices. The images above show it running on an HTC Magic phone running Android 2.2. Even on that old and underpowered device, SlideShare worked well and switching between slides was almost instantaneous.
There is one downside to using an unsupported browser. If you go to Slideshare.net with anything but an Android or iOS browser you will get the desktop version of the site. If that happens you can use the URL slideshare.net/mobile/ to see the mobile version. Also, most older presentations on SlideShare aren't available in mobile format yet but all new ones should be.
Called "A Foursquare for Beer Lovers" by Mashable, Untappd is a location aware mobile web app where you check-in with a beer.
You can get badges for when and where you check-in and for each different beer you check-in with. Users can add new beers including homebrews and keep a beer wishlist of brews they want to try. Untappd uses the Foursquare API for location support and works anywhere in the world where there's beer.
Other users can see your check-ins in their timelines and in a public timeline that Untappd calls "The Bar". Check-ins, badges etc. can be shared on Twitter, Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook. You can also make your check-ins private so that only your Untappd friends can see them.
What sets Untappd apart from Foursquare, Gowalla etc. is that it's also sort of a reviews and recommendations site for beers. When you check-in you're required to name the beer you're drinking and you can also give it a 1-5 "bottle" ranking. Beer names are clickable and lead to a page with some information about the beer along with its cumulative rating and recent user check-ins and comments on the brew.
Untappd uses some HTML5 features and currently supports the Android, iOS, WebOS and BlackBerry OS6 browsers only. I tried a few unsupported browsers and found that it also seems to work in the bada browser but not with Opera Mobile 11 or Mini 6 or the pre-Anna Symbian^3 browser.
Filed in: Wap Review Directory - Entertainment and Leisure/Life Style/Beer, Wine & Spirits
Ratings: Content Usability
Mobile Link: m.untappd.com
Destination Hotels and Resorts is a 30 property U.S. chain with hotels on the east and west coasts and in Colorado and Hawaii. Their recently launched mobile site is a simple directory of properties with several pages of information, a map and photos for each one.
There is no online booking or availability information but direct click to call numbers are provided for each hotel. I can understand not providing online booking given the complexity of handling of mobile credit card transaction processing, but a simple grid showing available dates would do a lot to reduce unnecessary calls and user frustration.
I found one pretty big usability flaw with the site. The "Home Page" link on individual hotel pages doesn't lead to the Destination Hotels Home Page. Instead it only goes back to the first listing page for that hotel, leaving the user stuck there with no easy way to get back to the listing of all hotels.
Ratings: Content Usability
Ready.mobi Score: 4 "Good"
Mobile Link: mobile.destinationhotels.com