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(wrong string) €“ Challenges Facing Mobile-OnlyInternet Users in the Developing World

From: David Storey <dstorey@opera.com>
Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 22:38:26 +0200
Cc: Prashanth <prashanth@akmin.com>, Stephane Boyera <boyera@w3.org>, public-mw4d@w3.org
Message-Id: <0861E0CE-19E8-41E2-A257-363AF2F50E55@opera.com>
To: Shwetank Dixit <shwetankd@opera.com>, Prabhas Pokharel <prabhas@mobileactive.org>
As far as I understand it:

* Opera Mini uses what is installed on the phone (I think it has its  
own generic serif/sans-serif too as a fall back but I'm not sure if  
that is still the case). I'd expect phone in India to be shipped with  
a font that can render the local language (or is that assumption too  
much to ask?). I'd expect Nokias (which are the most used phones in  
India for Opera Mini (and probably for any other major browser)) to at  
least have one. The Opera Mini UI is localised into many of the  
languages used in India, so I expect it has to work at some level. A  
US Android phone likely doesn't work as it will probably be using the  
Droid fonts. I'm guessing that doesn't include the correct glyphs (or  
at least the US version). StatCounter [1] suggests Andriod isn't  
particularly popular in India. At least for web surfing. Opera Mini  
has multiple millions of users in India (and across the Indian sub- 
continent) so that gives me further suspicion it works out of the box  

* Opera Mobile (the smart phone browser) uses the Droid fonts rather  
than the fonts on the phone (at least by default). I can confirm that  
doesn't work with the site in question when using the Emulator at  
least (Its not really an emulator - it is exactly the same code as on  
the device, just a port to Win, Linux or Mac It is just easier to call  
it an emulator) [2]. I've looked atthe glyph table for Droid and it  
doesn't look like it supports any Devanagari glyphs. Even "Droid  
fallback" which includes quite a lot of extra glyphs, but mostly it  
seems for CJK languages. I guess if Opera Mobile is shipped in India  
it could be shipped with an appropriate font and it would work (as it  
does support Unicode TTF and OTF fonts (not not the none-standard EOT  
which we've had no end of problems with on Indian sites in the past as  
Shwetank alluded too (basically they'd use a EOT font to make standard  
western encoding characters (ABC etc) look like Devanagari glyphs,  
which of course rendered fine in IE, but looked like gibberish to  
other browsers, in view source and to screen readers.)

As mentioned later in this thread, CSS3 Web Fonts (not HTML5) can also  
be used, as you can link to one of the freely available fonts (which  
give you a licence to use Web Fonts). This works in Opera Mobile, but  
not Opera Mini (which is far bigger in India as it works on lower end  
devices). One reason for that is Web Fonts are quite expensive in  
terms of resources, bandwidth and storage requirements. Having to  
download hundreds of kilobytes (not to mention megabytes for many CJK  
Asian fonts) isn't very kind on the user when they are on a slow  
network and paying by the kb. Font subsetting can help of course. The  
WOFF format handles subsetting well I believe, but is not widely  
supported on mobile browsers, or even desktop browsers yet.

[1] http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_browser-IN-monthly-200907-201008
[2] http://www.opera.com/developer/tools/

On 6 Jul 2010, at 16:18, Shwetank Dixit wrote:

> Hi Prashant,
> Let me investigate the issue...and I'll get back to you. Many mobile  
> browsers, including Opera Mini/Mobile, support unicode and thus,  
> regional fonts...but this is dependent on font support in the phone  
> which many times limited.
> I'll get back to you on how to get it working with your sites, and  
> could be something of use to add to this group as well.
> Cheers,
> On Tue, 06 Jul 2010 19:37:06 +0530, Prabhas Pokharel <prabhas@mobileactive.org 
> > wrote:
>> Shwetank,
>> I got super excited when I heard that, but I just tried browsing  
>> those sites
>> on Opera Mini 5 beta on my Android phone (Nexus One, running Froyo,  
>> bought
>> in the US), and the unicode fonts at aajtak.com (or a few other  
>> sites I
>> tried) don't display properly. If it will after configuration, that  
>> could be
>> huge!
>> Let me know,
>> Prabhas
>> On Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 6:16 AM, Shwetank Dixit  
>> <shwetankd@opera.com> wrote:
>>> This has at least *partly* have to do with the way developers  
>>> include fonts
>>> in web pages. If the page uses Unicode, then at least in Opera  
>>> Mini and
>>> Mobile (and most probably, most other major mobile browsers), there
>>> shouldn't be a problem (for example, aajtak.com uses unicode to  
>>> display
>>> hindi fonts, works fine)
>>> However, many people use .EOT fonts to display regional indian  
>>> language
>>> text in web pages. The problem with that is that .EOT fonts only  
>>> work with
>>> Internet Explorer, and thus can't be displayed properly even by  
>>> other
>>> desktop browsers, let alone mobile ones.
>>> Prashant: I don't know whether the local indian language fonts on
>>> mobisitegalore use unicode or not. If it does, and it still  
>>> doesn't display
>>> properly on Opera Mini/mobile, then please let me know off-list,  
>>> and I'll
>>> investigate the issue further.
>>> On Tue, 06 Jul 2010 15:20:27 +0530, Stephane Boyera  
>>> <boyera@w3.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Prashanth,
>>>> This is a very good point. I believe that there is not much  
>>>> attention from
>>>> the I18N community on the support of languages in mobile browser.  
>>>> This is
>>>> something that i've on my agenda. As a first step i discussed  
>>>> recently with
>>>> a colleague and we will develop a doc around the key elements to  
>>>> deliver
>>>> content in a specific languages.
>>>> Steph
>>>> Le 06/07/2010 04:42, Prashanth a crit :
>>>>> Dear Stephane,
>>>>> As far as India is concerned the biggest issue is rendering of  
>>>>> local
>>>>> language fonts in the mobile browsers. Note that I am not even  
>>>>> pointing
>>>>> to user having to key in text in local languages, but very  
>>>>> unfortunately
>>>>> the Indian fonts do not even get displayed in the mobile browser.
>>>>> Today we have over 80,000 mobile websites created using our tool
>>>>> www.mobisitegalore.com and over 50% come from India, but there  
>>>>> is no way
>>>>> that they can created a mobile website in Hindi or Tamil because  
>>>>> the
>>>>> fonts would just not render in the mobile browser.
>>>>> This is an important missing link as most people in India cannot  
>>>>> read
>>>>> English.
>>>>> Warm regards
>>>>> S.Prashanth
>>>>> CEO
>>>>> www.akmin.com
>>>>> On 05-Jul-2010 5:17 PM, Stephane Boyera wrote:
>>>>>> Dear All,
>>>>>> i want to share with you a very good paper from S. Gitau, J.  
>>>>>> Donner
>>>>>> and G. Marsden.
>>>>>> The paper is attached
>>>>>> References are:
>>>>>> Gitau, Shikoh, Marsden, Gary, & Donner, Jonathan. (2010). After  
>>>>>> access
>>>>>> - Challenges facing mobile-only internet users in the developing
>>>>>> world. Proceedings of the 28th international conference on human
>>>>>> factors in computing systems (CHI 2010) (pp. 2603-2606). New  
>>>>>> York: ACM.
>>>>>> One of the first papers i see focusing on the barriers of using  
>>>>>> mobile
>>>>>> web in developing countries by people without PC access and  
>>>>>> experience.
>>>>>> Some good suggestions for operators and other players.
>>>>>> Steph
>>> --
>>> Shwetank Dixit
>>> Web Evangelist,
>>> Site Compatibility / Developer Relations / Consumer Products Group
>>> Member - W3C Mobile Web for Social Development (MW4D) Group
>>> Member - Web Standards Project (WaSP) - International Liaison Group
>>> Opera Software - www.opera.com
>>> Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/ 
>>> mail/
> -- 
> Shwetank Dixit
> Web Evangelist,
> Site Compatibility / Developer Relations / Consumer Products Group
> Member - W3C Mobile Web for Social Development (MW4D) Group
> Member - Web Standards Project (WaSP) - International Liaison Group
> Opera Software - www.opera.com
> Using Opera's revolutionary e-mail client: http://www.opera.com/mail/

David Storey

Chief Web Opener / Product Manager, Opera Dragonfly
W3C WG:  Mobile Web Best Practices / SVG Interest Group

Opera Software ASA, Oslo, Norway
Mobile: +47 94 22 02 32 / E-Mail/XMPP: dstorey@opera.com / Twitter:  
Received on Wednesday, 4 August 2010 20:39:22 UTC

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