by Timothy Lee
Tue, Nov 13th 2007 3:26pm
Google's GPhone (non-)announcement wasn't a big surprise, but some of the tidbits that are now emerging about the Android mobile OS are intriguing. For example, in a new video, Google's Steve Horowitz mentions that the default Android web browser will be based on Webkit, which he says is "the industry standard these days." Webkit is the open source package of web browser libraries that's at the heart of Apple's Safari web browser, and was originally based on the Linux Konquerer browser. Nokia gave the libraries a big boost last year when it announced a WebKit-based browser for its own mobile phones. And this year, Apple used WebKit as the foundation for the iPhone's web browser. The Google announcement further consolidates WebKit's status as a leading platform for mobile web browsers. The choice of WebKit for mobile browsing makes sense. Mobile browsers need to be fast and have a small footprint, and Apple originally chose the Konquerer codebase because it found it to be much leaner than Mozilla's codebase. The growing popularity of WebKit is good news for Mac Safari users (like me), who are less likely to see those annoying "your browser is not supported" messages when they visit websites. It's also good for the broader web-browsing public, as it represents the rise of a third major competitor in the browser market. As WebKit continues to grow in popularity, it will make more sense for website developers to focus on conforming to standards rather than customizing a site to the quirks of a particular browser. That, in turn, will force Microsoft (and Mozilla, but mostly Microsoft) to focus on conforming to the standards themselves, contributing to a virtuous circle of standards compliance that ultimately makes everyone's lives easier.
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