Gmail Experimenting With Desktop Notifications

It looks like Gmail engineers are experimenting with push desktop notifications in Google Chrome and Gmail.  This is a long-awaited feature of web browsers, and will allow web applications to act more like traditional desktop applications.  As more applications become web-based, ditching the traditional fat-client pieces, small things like this will help users with the transition.

Is the new option showing up in your settings?  (Click on image for full-size.)

Here’s a full explanation from the official Gmail blog.

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Android Honeycomb

While the web seems to be abuzz with iPhone-Verizon rumors, that may actually pan out this time, we cannot wait for the next version of Android to come out.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this weekend, Google engineers showed off a sneak peak of their creation, and we couldn’t be more excited.

The current version of Android, Gingerbread, released in the last month, has some incredible features, and we hope they are even more polished in Honeycomb.  Since Hollow Developers is a web publishing and design company, we are most interested in the improvements to the browser in Honeycomb.  With tabbed browsing, Google Chrome bookmark syncing, and other upgrades, Honeycomb will have the most full-featured browser in the mobile market.

What does this mean for businesses that depend on the web for commerce?  Simply, mobile browsing is something that shouldn’t be an after-thought anymore.  Ensuring that your website is accessible on mobile devices used to be a time-consuming process, but with web browsers on phones becoming more like full-featured versions of their desktop cousins, it is becoming much easier.  However, make sure to think about the limited screen sizes of these web browsers and plan accordingly.

Here are some mobile site best practices that we follow at Hollow Developers:

  • Ditch the Flash banner ads – until Flash is supported by most browsers (and doesn’t suck up processing power like the current versions)
  • Try to eliminate as much typing as possible in the registration step.  Typing on mobile browsers is still a little slower, and if someone is registering on a mobile device, they may have limited time to complete this step.
  • Think about screen layout in both portrait and landscape mode.  Can you still see the most important links and content in both modes?
  • Use Google Analytics to get more data about screen sizes and device types that are accessing your website the most.  Sites with tech-centric users will most likely have more bleeding-edge devices, while sites catering to older audiences may have limited web browsers that only display text.

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