Mowser on Kindle


So I went over to Diego's today to play with his Kindle, and to see what the browser was like. As reported it's a bit limited, but for us mobile geeks, there's lots to learn: The Kindle is using Access NetFront to power the browser, and it seems like a combo of a basic mobile browser on the client with a server side proxy. It formats the markup as best as possible, but because there's no scrolling in the Kindle, it does break up normal sites into into insane numbers of pages. There's a default mode - which seems to ignore CSS and JavaScript, and a more Advanced Mode, which is marked as being even more "Experimental" than the default mode. The Advanced Mode actually displays CSS, however, so I can't imagine many people using the default unless they don't know otherwise. The connection over EVDO is reasonably fast, though the screen's redraw time might make you want to cry a bit.

Here's the relevant header info:

HTTP_USER_AGENT: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 4.0) NetFront/3.3
HTTP_VIA: 1.1 (amazon proxy)
HTTP_ACCEPT: image/png, image/gif, image/x-xbitmap, image/jpeg, image/pjpeg, */*

Because the internal browser is already doing paging, I used the above info to make sure that I deliver full pages through the Mowser content adapter - as it was confusing otherwise - and it seems to work pretty well. If you get a Kindle and want to use the browser for any realistic amount of time, I'd definitely recommend using Mowser, as the formatting ended up being much more readable (if I do say so myself), and you end up with less paging because of the more compact markup, and reduced image loading. Here's a high-resolution example of the New York Times on the Kindle via Mowser.

All-in-all it's a slick little device. The navigation for the web is a bit wonky - there might be a way of making more "Kindle-specific" GUI features which will help, but in general if you were to choose a reader, the free mobile browsing itself is worth quite a bit. We'll see how long *that* lasts, actually... I bet Amazon will be surprised at how much people circumvent the $2 per feed per month (!!!) charges and go directly to the sites themselves using proxies like Mowser. Someone's going to have to foot the EV-DO bill, and profit on the books only goes so far.

If you have any other mobile-browser specific questions, email me or leave them in the comments, otherwise check out Diego's second take on the device for more info on the device overall as well.


* The ABC123 stuff above is in place of some identifier info that Diego would rather I leave out, for understandable reasons. :-)

< Previous         Next >