With the popularity of mobile computing, suddenly mobile browser shares skyrocketed from a small minority to an indispensable business consideration for major companies. Back then, mobile browsers were just a simple browser, very limited compared to mainstream desktop browsers. All they’re capable of doing is display WAP sites and simple HTML websites. Mobile browsers which can run WMLScripts were considered advanced then. As the mobile devices level-up, so are their capabilities. Smartphones in general, gained mainstream popularity, arguably because of the iPhone in 2007. As the devices gain more processing power, so are the possibilities that it can achieve. These phones are capable of displaying full websites instead of the usual stripped-down version of the page. They behave more of a mini-netbook with phone features.
Although the said framework only targets only smartphone and tablet web browsers, as long as the HTML mark-up is semantically correct, it will silently and discretely fallback to a plain HTML page. Probably the best feature of the library is transforming the differently-rendered pages from different mobile web browsers into a uniform, familiar touch-friendly user-interface.
The images above shows the difference in terms of rendering of a single webpage using an old mobile browser and a smartphone. We can notice a large difference in terms of style when viewing a website when jQuery Mobile is capable of running. And by simple analogy, we can say that customers and visitors alike are more likely to visit a mobile website that has better visual eye-candy, and therefore the website will get more traffic. We can also notice that the one with the framework is ergonomically-designed for touch-enabled phones. Notice the iPhonesque design of the page? It almost blends seamlessly with the designs of the iPhone and Android interface, so users are almost familiar with it.
I therefore conclude
jQuery Mobile is still in its alpha stage, meaning it shouldn’t be used for production websites, but rather for testing purposes only. As of this writing, the current version is 1.0 alpha 4.1. It’s still a bit far for a stable release, heck it’s not even on beta yet. But based on user responses, feedback is quite good. A few bugs are found and sprout everyday, but results are promising. Since it was built on top of the full jQuery framework, in my personal opinion, I think it is safe to use it for production on desktop websites. Yes, it runs perfectly on desktop browsers too! Your desktop websites inherits a few touch capabilities such as dragging the page to scroll down, cool huh? But as of now, we have to keep an eye on its development, and I’m sure we’ll still be surprised in what it can do. Next time, I’ll probably make a simple tutorial on how to incorporate jQuery Mobile in your pages, as if it wasn’t on the official documentation yet.