Ever since I started collecting and reporting HTML5test scores I noticed the enormous diversity of browsers on mobile. There are not just a handful of popular browsers, but literally dozens. And even worse, you can run the same browser on the same OS on two different devices, but still get significantly different test scores.
On desktop, testing a website is pretty easy. You just install a couple of different browsers and a couple of virtual machines running some old versions of Internet Explorer and you’re basically done.
On mobile it is a bit more complicated. You’ll need devices. And devices cost money. If you’re a big company you can probably afford to build your own device lab, but for an independent designer that can be very costly. And even if you can afford to buy all those devices, not many companies actually realize this is a problem. So what happens is that designers usually check websites on their own phone and maybe on the phone of a friend and be done with it. And that is why we have some many ‘mobile’ sites that only work well on iPhones.
One of the solutions to this problem is getting devices in the hands of developers.
The HTML5test Device Lab
Little over a year ago I read an article on Smashing Magazine about Jeremy Keith opening up his own device lab to other developers and ever since I’ve been thinking about doing something similar myself. When the subject of the Open Device Lab movement was brought up during PhoneGap Day last september I decided to step up and do the same.
As of today I am going to be running an Open Device Lab: the HTML5test Device Lab. If you want to test your site on a large range of different mobile devices, all you have to do is make an appointment and visit my lab. The coffee and Wi-Fi are free!
Over the last couple of years I managed to collect a substantial number of devices for my day job and for testing the HTML5test site itself. A couple of weeks ago I reached out to a number of companies with my idea and I’ve gotten some very good responses. Last week BlackBerry sent me some devices I did not have yet and I’ve gotten some pledges and support from other companies too. Want to help out? Please read our wish list. Thanks!
Right now the lab has 71 devices available for testing. If you want to know how your website looks on an ancient BlackBerry, on a Nokia N9 or a Firefox OS device – we’ve got them. Need to test on iOS? No problem, we’ve got devices running iOS 2.2 to 7.0 and you’re welcome to use them.
Other Open Device Labs
The HTML5test Device Lab isn’t the only one. There are more than 70 Open Device Labs across 22 countries. Head on over to OpenDeviceLab.com for more information and locate the one closest to you.