Newsvine Mobile Launches

We won't lie to you. Nobody at Newsvine Headquarters uses "the mobile web" very much. We're in front of our computers so much that the temptation to connect on our mobile phones for anything other than driving directions is low. That said, the Newsvine staff is not necessarily representative of the rest of the world.

With these thoughts in mind, Eric Glomstad (a.k.a. "The Newsvine Intern") has spent the past several weeks crafting a shiny new, compact version of Newsvine fit for display on mobile devices of all shapes and sizes. The file sizes are tiny, the graphics are sparse, and the navigation has been reduced to the bare essentials necessary for a quick browse around the Vine. You can read articles, visit your column, or catch up on comment threads on your way to work (after which you will spend the rest of the day on Newsvine proper, wasting away your company's money engaging in political arguments and DVD-key debates).

As part of Newsvine Mobile's development process, we had to make a few important decisions about where it should live and how we should take people there. Many people advocate using mobile stylesheets to shape the original content into a more mobile-friendly form but there are serious compatibility and speed issues with this approach. Others advocate server-side detection to automatically serve up lighter content to mobile devices (using something like WURFL). We like the server-side route and may move to it eventually but it's a bit CPU-intensive and doesn't handle all devices properly.

As a compromise between these two approaches, we've elected to run Newsvine Mobile at our new .mobi domain, newsvine.mobi, and redirect devices there as gracefully as we can from the main newsvine.com domain. Visiting newsvine.mobi from your mobile device (or even a standard web browser) will take you directly there while visiting newsvine.com on a mobile device should do one of two things:

.Mobi domains are fairly new and haven't really caught on yet but we're trying this approach because of the following advantages:

  1. Our URL structures stay the same, so mike.newsvine.com essentially equals mike.newsvine.mobi.
  2. We don't need to insert query strings like "?mode=mobile", use cookies to store if you're mobile or not, or add another level subdomain like "mobile.mike.newsvine.com".
  3. Once you're at the mobile site, we don't need to check if you're an actual mobile user on every subsequent page load.
  4. Most importantly, it allows us to provide a special site designed specifically for mobile devices instead of taking existing code and hacking it down until it's plausibly usable on small screens.

So if you use the web on your mobile phone at all, check out Newsvine Mobile and let us know what you think.

On another note, Eric's tenure at Newsvine ended this week after a fruitful several months with us. We thank Eric for all of his hard work here and are also pleased to announce that he accepted a full-time position at a great company in Seattle so he's well taken care of! We wish Eric the best of luck at his new gig and will be bringing in the next Newsvine intern in exactly 11 days. Get ready to get your hazing on.

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I was JUST gonna write a feature request today for cell-phone interactivity.

This post has gone live, Newsvine Blog Bot, but the content thus far is:

We won't lie to you.;lkk;l;kl;lk;llkjlkjlkjjkl

  • 3 votes
Reply#1 - Thu May 3, 2007 8:13 PM EDT

Its my fault.

    #1.1 - Thu May 3, 2007 9:38 PM EDT

    Should be fixed now. I blame Eric.

    Hey now, no need to be hasty here.

    • 1 vote
    #1.2 - Fri May 4, 2007 9:17 AM EDT

    I blame Eric

    Total garbage.. but probably was.

      #1.3 - Fri May 4, 2007 2:05 PM EDT
      Reply

      Well, I can't wait til "late June" when I will have a chance to check this out.

      • 3 votes
      Reply#2 - Thu May 3, 2007 8:14 PM EDT

      While I knew what this thread was all about, I was rather hoping it would detail the launch of the NewsvineMobile: something like the Batmobile, but green with fern-like curlicues instead of wings, propelled by manifest script (see: how Neo sees the Matrix) instead of flames.

      All the same, it's about time. I have been searching for another way to drain my phone's battery.

      • 15 votes
      Reply#3 - Thu May 3, 2007 9:14 PM EDT

      Kewl! I don't have any mobile devices, so I don't anticipate ever using newsvine.mobi, but it's nice to know it's there for those who do.

      • 3 votes
      Reply#4 - Thu May 3, 2007 9:26 PM EDT

      Ooh. This will be awesome...unless, amusingly, you have an iPhone, in which case you won't need Anything-Mobile.

      But in the meantime, this rocks.

        Reply#5 - Thu May 3, 2007 9:29 PM EDT

        Pretty neat -- I wonder if this would be a more useful version on the Wii, as it seems to focus more on the text and less on the interface.

        I don't really use my phone for browsing -- so it won't be of much use otherwise.

        Also -- ads? Will they apply?

        • 3 votes
        Reply#6 - Thu May 3, 2007 10:17 PM EDT

        I doubt it, Brian. When you're being charged per KB, as I am, you'd get really ticked off if you had to pay to download large banner ads, or even Adsense-style contextual ones.

        For now, the mobile web is clean of any kind of advertisement.

        • 4 votes
        #6.1 - Fri May 4, 2007 2:24 AM EDT

        Well, for some -- I suspect that's a plus.

        • 1 vote
        #6.2 - Fri May 4, 2007 10:00 AM EDT
        Reply

        This will be helpful for me when I visit Florida twice a year and can't abscond with anybody's wireless connection and I need a Newsvine fix.

        Nice use of the intern's time!

        • 2 votes
        Reply#7 - Thu May 3, 2007 11:34 PM EDT

        I applaud your efforts to serve mobile users. Just the other day, I was surfing Google News from my phone, when I came across the first mainstream news story of the revolt. It's quite fascinating how much one can do online from a device that small (and mine's really small): read the news, check your (G)mail, look up translations/definitions, etc. It feels like it's 1995 all over again!

        And you know what, I actually like the simple and clean look of newsvine.mobi so much that it's my new homepage on my computer. Mike already knows what I think of the 2.0 homepage. ;-)

        • 2 votes
        Reply#9 - Fri May 4, 2007 2:19 AM EDT
        ddaSedNDeleted
        Reply

        Hm. Well I applaud the effort, because I'm a huge mobile web user. However, when I try to load newsvine.mobi on my cell, I get this error: HTTP Error: 406 Not Acceptable.

        I'm using the LG VX 9800, though I doubt that's the reason why I'm getting an HTTP error.

        • 1 vote
        Reply#10 - Fri May 4, 2007 5:36 AM EDT

        I get the same from a Motorola phone on Verizontal's network. My guess is the pricks (that would be Verizon) are doing something idiotic at the proxy level. Never underestimate their ability to not give a flying fark when someone isn't paying them to push their content at us.

          #10.1 - Fri May 4, 2007 8:11 AM EDT
          Reply

          Neat-o!

          • 1 vote
          Reply#11 - Fri May 4, 2007 6:53 AM EDT

          Poor eric, send him a Tanker of Ivars for me.

            Reply#12 - Fri May 4, 2007 9:57 AM EDT

            Nice! I just got a Samsung i730 with Wi-fi. I'll have to check it out in a little bit.

              Reply#13 - Fri May 4, 2007 10:10 AM EDT

              This is perfect for a low-res site as well for the next time I'm stuck in some crazy country.

              Not to mention, Newsvine Mobile is perfect for moi when that Opera web browser comes out for the Nintendo DS Lite in America.

              • 1 vote
              Reply#14 - Fri May 4, 2007 10:40 AM EDT

              THANK YOU!!

              I believe I've sent a feature request or two for this and as I was checking Newsvine from my new BB Pearl yesterday, I was elated to see a link to the mobile version.

              A thousand thanks!

                Reply#15 - Fri May 4, 2007 12:09 PM EDT

                I remember when Newsvine first launched and I gave it a whirl on my old PDAphone (Xda 2i) - I have an HTC Hermes from T-Mobile and I have to say that it both loads really fast on my 3G connection AND it loads beautifully. Perfectly formatted, looks great, just a shame that T-Mobile's transparent proxy recompresses the images, and you have to refresh to get the original quality JPEGs... A minor problem, though!

                newsvine.mobi = my phone's new home page. Spot on, I've been waiting a long time for mobile newsvine, and it doesn't disappoint!

                  Reply#16 - Fri May 4, 2007 1:40 PM EDT

                  Hazing?!? Ruh-roh.

                    Reply#17 - Fri May 4, 2007 2:22 PM EDT

                    Thanks for all the kind words Mike :)

                    I'll always look back on my year at Newsvine with great fondness - you all took a chance on me despite still attending school yet prepped me up for the big leagues in ways completely foreign to the realm of academia. I'll avoid plugging my new employer suffice it to say that the Newsvine Mobile project in particular added great value to my marketability. Thanks so much for the opportunity guys.

                    So when are you all going to allow leaving comments on the mobile site? ;)

                    • 4 votes
                    Reply#18 - Fri May 4, 2007 2:23 PM EDT

                    Wow. newsvine.mobi looks great on my new internet-enabled wristwatch.

                    • 2 votes
                    Reply#19 - Fri May 4, 2007 9:19 PM EDT

                    Ok. Now we need .mobi as an option in "email this" or at least as an easily clickable option in an email for when we get/send newsvine stories.

                      Reply#20 - Fri May 4, 2007 10:05 PM EDT

                      WAY TO GO ERIC! This will go great with my new cell phone I haven't bought yet.................

                      • 1 vote
                      Reply#21 - Fri May 4, 2007 10:17 PM EDT

                      Awesomeness! I have been waiting for this for quite some time. I use the mobile web on a daily basis and it's always hard not to be able to get at Newsvine. This is indeed an exciting day!

                      • 1 vote
                      Reply#22 - Sun May 6, 2007 8:32 PM EDT

                      Thanks. I'm really appreciating this feature as I travel sans laptop - it gets me my Newsvine fix.

                      • 1 vote
                      Reply#23 - Wed May 9, 2007 12:17 PM EDT

                      I use Opera Mini. I heart Opera Mini. I'll check out Newsvine on it soon. That is all.

                        Reply#24 - Fri May 11, 2007 12:09 PM EDT

                        Great idea. I will, in the future, be using it.

                          Reply#25 - Wed May 16, 2007 2:41 PM EDT

                          I was very, very, excited about the MobileVine only to discover less capability than I had before. I use a Verizon UTC-6700 Windows Mobile smart phone with Opera and until this change, I was actually able to vote and comment from my phone. Now, all I can do is read :(

                          • 2 votes
                          Reply#26 - Sat May 19, 2007 1:53 AM EDT
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