Simulate Sites for Mobile Phones and iPods

Nowadays there seems to be three kinds of websites. There are the full websites that you are used to viewing on your desktop or laptop. Then there are mobile versions of sites for cell phones. Mobile sites are created with a minimum amount of graphics, don't require much bandwidth, and can be navigated with a keypad. Additionally, there are sites formatted for the Safari browser on iPhones and iPod touches. These sites are sometimes called web apps and are designed to be used by touching the screen with fingers. Below you can see that CBS News formats its site according to what kind of device you are using to view it.

2 Kinds of Sites

Phone EmulatorNot all sites are programmed to format themselves into these three types of sites. Chances are that the your website is static and does not change no matter what size of screen it is being viewed on. If you'd like to see what a site looks like on a cell phone, you can use the dotMobi Emulator. The emulator is useful for not only checking your own site, but for pages that you might want students to visit on a mobile device.

If you'd like to see what a site or web app looks like on an iPhone or iPod touch, you can use iPhone Tester. iPhone Tester gives you a preview of what the page will look like on a simulated iPhone.

If you'd like a make a site that will function well on a mobile phone, handheld, or iPhone, you should check out Wirenode. It's a free service that allows you to easily create a compact webpage or site that will format itself for the device that's used to access it. Here's a site I made with Wirenode for the 2008 NECC conference. As you can see, Wirenode support text, images, news feeds, and hyperlinks.

Why would you care what your site looks like on a mobile device? Research firm IDC says that 1.3 billion people will connect to the Internet using a mobile phone in 2008. According to the March 2008 Tween & Teen Lifestyle Report, 73% of teens and 26% of tweens own mobile phones. Besides mobile phones, youngsters also often have access to the Web on other portable platforms like Palm handhelds, Sony PSPs and Nintendo DSs. The bottom line is that the Internet isn't just for desktop computers anymore!

Directory of Web Apps for iPod touch & iPhone

Apple has launched its official directory of Web apps for iPod touch and iPhone. Web apps are websites that are designed to "extend the functionality of iPhone and iPod touch." Apple does not allow software applications to be loaded on iPod touch and iPhone, forcing developers to use Web apps instead. Note: You can hack an iPhone to run native applications, but I do not recommend hacking. Although Web apps follow the latest web programming guidelines, I've found that many Web apps designed for iPod touch and iPhone often do not render properly on other devices like Palm handhelds and Pocket PCs. A definite disadvantage to Web apps is that they require a wireless Internet connection. No connection = no access to the Web app site.

Over 200 Web apps are currently listed in the directory. Categories include Calculate, Entertainment, Games, News, Productivity, Search Tools, Social Networking, Sports, Travel, Utilities, and Weather. About half of the Web apps are in the Games category. Perhaps we'll see an Education category in the future.

If you don't have an iPod touch or iPhone but want to give these apps a try, many will load right in your current browser. Mac users can download the free iPhoney application. iPhoney shows you exactly what a site will look like on a iPod touch/iPhone, matching the devices' 320 x 480 resolution. All desktop Web users can go to and to see how a site will look on an iPod touch or iPhone.

There are other directories of Web apps. Two places to find them are everythingiPhone and iLounge. But, Apple's directory is my favorite.

Feeling really geeky or have advanced Web programming students? Apple has resources for developing your own Web apps.

Web apps

Update: Apple has announced they will allow developers to make software programs for iPod touch and iPhone. This is great news as native software applications are far better than web applications. We'll have to wait a while as the kit for software developers won't be ready until February 2008. With useful software applications, iPod touch will turn out to be a very useful handheld computer.

Update #2: Kathy Schrock has posted a nice list of educational web apps she has tried out.

Meet the Mobile Web

Mobile DevicesBelieve it or not, more people have access to mobile devices than desktop computers. Many handhelds can access the Internet, including cell phones, Palm handhelds, Pocket PCs, Nintendo DS's, and Sony PSPs.

The problem is most websites are not convenient to use on a handheld's small screen. So, many sites provide a mobile version of their content. For example, USA Today provides their current news stories in a simplified format at

USA and Mobile

In 2006, mobile websites got their own top-level domain name: .mobi. When visiting sites like on a mobile device, you know you're receiving content formatted for a handheld. Over half a million sites have been registered as .mobi and many more are on the way. Unfortunately, there remains a variety of ways that a website may format its mobile web address, making it difficult to locate a mobile site (if there is one). Once you find a useful mobile site, be sure to bookmark it!

I've added a section to Learning in Hand to help educators use the Mobile Web. I provide plenty of sample sites and tips for classroom use. Educators might be interested in making their own mobile site, so I've included a page with information about ways to create your own mobile homepage. Many web publishers are creating mobile versions of their sites because more and more people are accessing with web with a handheld.

Soft Reset #17: Mobile Internet

Soft Reset LogoSoft Reset #17: Mobile Internet is now online. There are a growing number of tools to make the Mobile Internet a friendlier place. In Soft Reset #17 Tony and Mike discuss using the Web on handheld computers and mobile phones. Searching, blogs, news feeds, bookmarks, and homepages are the topics. Although the focus is WiFi connections, accessing the Internet through Bluetooth is also addressed. Be sure to listen for the intro and outro voice--it's someone that knows Mike very well.

Show Notes:

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Mobile Learning Redefined

Mobile Learning Redefined Title SlideSteve Dembo from Skokie, Illinois posted the presentation Mobile Learning Redefined as part of the 2006 K12 Online Conference. Here's the description of Steve's 43 minute presentation:

Students are bringing their cell phone, iPod, Palm handheld, and PSP to school and we respond by forbidding their use or treat confiscation. However, these are the tools of the new generation and educators must change and consider how to utilize and embrace these new online learning tools. In this session you will learn about how video can be brought to handhelds and phones, how to create websites designed for portable devices, and how the mobile internet is making information more accessible than ever. You will explore what students are using and how these tools can be harnessed to support good teaching. You may even learn how to convince your principal you need a handheld!

Here are some of the highlights:

The March 2005 Kaiser Foundation Report found that of 8-18 year olds, 9% own a laptop, 12% own a PDA, 37% own a mobile phone, 53% own a mobile gaming device (like Sony PSPs and Nintendo DSs). All of these devices can access the mobile internet. Schools are putting out big money to provide learning tools to students. Steve suggests schools use the tools "students are hiding in thier backpacks."

Steve details the capabilities of the Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, mobile phones, and PDAs. It's amazing what these small and inexpensive devices can do! Steve notes that most schools are banning these devices.

What can you do with the technology your students already have? Steve shares these examples:

  • CellFlix Festival - Video from a cell phone was edited on a computer, and then final product viewed on a phone. The time limit was 30 seconds. This makes for very focused digital story telling. Check out the website. Steve shows an example of the human life cycle in 30 seconds made by a student. With mobile phone cameras, you have more cameras so that not as many students have to share camcorders.
  • Mobile Web Search - You can search the mobile internet with slimmed down versions of popular websites (Google, AOL, and Technorati).
  • Mobile Web Reference - for definitions, for encyclopedia access, and for translations (one word at a time), for measurement, currency, and time zone converters, Google Mobile Maps gives you the same images from Google Earth on your mobile phone, gives access to the Wikipedia,
  • Semacode ExampleSemacodes -Semacode reading software is required. Use your mobile's camera to take a photo of a semacode (which is a three-dimensional bar code). The semacode is read and then the software launches a website on your mobile phone. This is much faster than trying to enter a URL using a phone's keypad. Steve tells about a palace the uses semacodes to link to Wikipedia entries about the features and history of the palace.
  • QuizFaber - Create simple multiple choice quizzes on the internet that can be taken on mobile phones with QuizFaber. You need a Windows computer to make the quiz.
  • United Streaming - This is not a free service, but many teachers have access to an account. Most of the website works fine on a mobile device. The videos won't stream, but the images, articles, and quizzes from the website work just fine.
  • Photos to Go - Flickr is free for up to 100 photos. There is a mobile version of Flickr.
  • - is the mobile version of for keeping bookmarks. Type your bookmarks on a desktop computer and then access them on your mobile device. mona is a program you can download for a mobile phone that allows you to bookmark from your phone itself.
    Steve summaries his presentation by saying, "It's not about the new technologies... It's making use of what they [students] already have in their pockets."
  • Podcasting - You can podcast from most devices with a microphone. allows you to call a phone number to leave a message. The audio is published to the web as a podcast instantly.
  • Mobile Blogging - "Moblogging" is updating your blog from your mobile device. Most services have a way for your to email or text in your entry. To read blogs on your mobile phone, there's LiteFeeds. Steve's favorite (as is mine) is Bloglines, which renders just fine on a mobile device.
  • Mobile Homes - provides a home page for your cell phone with customized content. You can include calendars, blogs, polls, articles, and more. It's quite complicated but provides a lot of features. has very few options but the web pages look very slick on a mobile phone.
Steve's Mobile Learning Redefined is a Windows Media File that is 43 MB in size (so be patient as it downloads). The presentation has great visuals and examples. Steve has supporting links listed at the end of this post. From your mobile phone, check out some of the links at