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Survey Shows: Major Sites Not Detecting Android Tablets, Mobile Sites Suck

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A new study from Blaze.io found that 1/3rd of the top 500 websites in the U.S. fail to recognize Android tablet browsers, and in turn deliver the same version optimized for a 4″ display on a 10″ tablet. As you can see in the example below, the result isn’t pretty, but looks aren’t the only issue. A recent survey of mobile commerce websites backed up our anecdotal experience which is to say, they suck.

Mobile site Android

Example of Mobile vs. Desktop websites by Blaze.io

What’s Going On?

The mobile versions of many top websites deliver a poor user experience on the larger screen of the tablet. The study by Blaze.io found that only 3% of the top 500 websites directed iPad traffic to a mobile version, while the Xoom was redirected to a mobile version 32% of the time.

Mobile websites ipad vs Android

Via Blaze.io

Why is it Happening?

In addition to identifying a problem, Blaze.io also shares why this problem exists with Android tablets, but not the iPad. As you might have assumed it is primarily a numbers game. There are a limited number of iPad models, but when it comes to Android tablets websites need to deal with a variety of operating systems (Gingerbread and Honeycomb) as well as varying screen sizes. Figuring out which version of a website to serve an Android device is an increasingly difficult task, one we even have trouble with here at GottaBeMobile. With over 310 Android phones and tablets available and more on the way, this issue will continue to grow.

Why You Should Care

If you’ve done any amount of browsing on your smartphone you already know that good mobile websites are the exception rather than the rule. Some mobile websites perform so poorly you wonder if the company has ever tested them. From Dairy Queen’s mobile website which loops you back to broken pages as often as it loads to Gawker blogs that redirect you to the homepage instead of the actual article, it’s clear that many mobile websites are downright awful.

According to a study by the E-tailing group, things are improving, with progress being made in store location and site search, but there is still room for improvement in many areas. From a retail standpoint the E-tailing group offers a collection of suggested best practices for mobile websites, which is lacking the most important — allowing the user to choose to go to the full featured version of the website.

How You Can Fix This Now

If you want to take control of your mobile browsing experience on your Android tablet or smartphone you should download the Dolphin HD web browser which allows you to choose your “user agent” which is what tells a website what type of device you are using. There are a number of options including “Desktop” and “iPad” which will allow you to get improve the accuracy of website autodetection in just a few seconds. The Dolphin HD browser is a free download and includes a number of other features that many users enjoy. To change the user agent, you need to go to Settings->Dolphin Settings->User Agent and then choose the way you want your Android tablet to identify itself to websites.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. Dave

    07/19/2012 at 12:59 pm

    The main problem is that there is no standardization of when to use “mobile.” Some tablet browsers have “mobile” in their signature. With IOS, you know that if you specify “iphone” and “ipod” you’re OK. With Android, if you specify “android,” you’re also getting Kindle FIRE and every other tablet. If you specify “android && mobile” you are getting mostly phones… but also tablets with poorly thought out signatures.

    The real solution is for everyone to specify “Android Tablet” and “Android Phone” or some such. Any device with a four inch or smaller screen really ought to have an easy designator… even if it’s (hee hee) “like iPhone” (which, by the way, would work for the users, but not for the lawyers.)

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