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Mobile portals: More options needed

Ways to view the Web from a mobile phone: Google, Netvibes, and Tappity.

I'm surprised that more Web sites aren't mobile friendly. By now, all content management systems and blogging platforms should be creating lightweight versions of their hosted sites automatically for users that come in via a mobile phones or WAP browsers. And even major sites that do have mobile versions (like most of the travel sites out there, bless them) don't automatically redirect users there when they should.

But one can rant, or one can find a workaround. I choose to do the latter and find ways to get my favorite sites onto my mobile phone in the right format--free of the graphics and chrome plating that look so nice on my PC but only makes sites slow and unreadable on a mobile. The standard method is get to a site via the Google Mobile search engine. If you do this, the site is returned via a Google proxy that does a pretty good job of cleaning things up for a small screen and a narrow pipe.

Netvibes mobile

There are more modern mobile access methods worth trying. For example, Netvibes recently launched a mobile version, and I like its implementation. From a PC or a Mac, go to your Netvibes account and create a tab called "Mobile," and then copy your favorite feeds and widgets into that tab. On your mobile device, go to m.netvibes.com to view the content. Since I'm a Netvibes junkie and use it to read RSS feeds, I find this a decent way to get my favorite content on my mobile, even though my phone has its own RSS reader. More advanced Netvibes content--widgets, for example--doesn't display, however.

Google's custom home page also works on a mobile, and likewise will strip out advanced widgets. Yahoo has a mobile version of My Yahoo as well, but it doesn't work on all phones.


You could do worse than to check out Tappity, a new mobile start page. Tappity lets you collect links to the sites you'd like to access on your mobile device. Sites that are already mobile friendly (for example, m.cnet.com) you just save as links. For sites that are not (such as Webware.com--sorry about that), you can ask Tappity to "mobify" the site, in which case it will link you to a stripped-down version of it. For the moment, Tappity uses Google's mobile proxy, but an upcoming release will use Tappity's own "mobilfier." You can also create links to site-specific searches, but it's a bit more complex to do so.

Tappity is also a community play. You can tag mobile sites so other people can find them.

Tappity doesn't work with RSS feeds, however, and that's a drag. Ideally one should be able to create a mobile home page that links to feeds where appropriate, but also mobile versions of sites where it makes sense. As I said in the headline, we need more options.

Tappity setup page