Thursday, August 23, 2012

HTML5 Capture on Mobile

For the stealth startup I work on when not getting paid by others, we've recently been focusing on how to get users to upload images to us. First launch is going to be web for the reasons I have outlined before, so this is a non-trivial issue.

Part of the investigation and beard-stroking has been that we're on the cusp of good HTML5 support for media capture. If you have an iOS 6 or Android 4 device, try this:

(Yes, I am aware there are some other ways to do this. I don't care. Today, input type=file is supported more than anything else, if it will someday be better.)

Press the "Browse" button. If that doesn't excite you, try it on anything older, at all. Hint, they don't do that.

Aside from thoughts of feature detection and how we'll get around this, I also thought, there are entirely /other/ browsers. So started trying some. Here's a summary of some of the more important ones I have installed on an Android 2.3.4 device (I have 17 browsers to choose from, but most are odd or niche):

  • Firefox Beta - Works fine. A dozen apps pop up, camera first.
  • Dolphin - Works, but only file uploaders, no capture tools.
  • Opera Mobile - Works... ish. Super wiggy decision from Opera, it seems to have a BUILT IN file browser. That's dense and odd of them for a mobile phone. No capture tools.
  • UC Browser 7.8 (Western) - Works, but intercepts with it's own dialogue: Upload from Local, Capture and Upload, Upload from UX netdisk. Picking one then uses it's own built-in tools, like it's own file browser or (shockingly!) it's very own camera capture tool. Wiggy.
  • Skyfire - Works, also no capture tools, just upload.

Okay, don't just scream "effing fragmentation!" Because it matters. This is the world we live in. What does this differentiation between browsers mean to you? Well, something soon. And more as time goes on, and we start using these neat HTML5 features.

The calendar picker, for example, is cool. But what if it's stupid or weird in some browser, do you not use it? It depends, really. Maybe it's stupid on the UC browser (notionally, I am not picking on them for any good reason) but you are designing for a Chinese market and you look and indeed 65% of current users are on it. Now it matters, and the default (Android Browser and Mobile Safari) don't matter as much.

Know your market, know your users, and as much as you have to peer at phones and explore this stuff, keep up on the changing landscape.


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Chamara Janaka said...

hi! does this only support iOS 6 or Android 4 devices. i need to access camera from a web form in almost every smart phone with html5 supporting browsers?

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