The year 2011 was a pivotal one the Web, particularly as it relates the way people go about connecting
to their favorite sites.
The advent of fast-emerging and rapidly growing technologies
in the mobile sector has led to many users regularly accessing the
Web from mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and even feature phones.
But not all of these mobile devices are created equally, so WM takes a look at some of the past year’s best and most popular
gadgets for surfing the ‘Net.
When news of the iPhone 4S first dropped, some were
disappointed -- to say the least. Users wanted an iPhone 5, and instead they got a revamped version of the iPhone 4. (Oh, and Siri.) Still, in the end,
it was the best-selling iPhone ever despite the initially lukewarm response.
The smartphone runs on the brand new iOS 5 and offers much
of the same functionality with which Apple fans and diehard iPhone users are
familiar, including the old standby Safari mobile browser. With the
introduction of the voice-controlled Siri, Apple also gives users a whole new
way to interact with the Web on their mobile phones, as information can be
accessed almost immediately. It’s likely that 2012 will finally see the release
of the iPhone 5, which will possibly be a drastic reinterpretation of the
device with even more sophisticated Internet capabilities.
Apple’s other major contribution of industry-changing
technology is the iPad 2, the successor to the device that standardized tablet
usage. It’s probably not a stretch to say that when people talk about tablets
and tablet browsing, they’re likely thinking of using an iPad, and that kind of
presence is what makes it such an important (and revolutionary) gadget.
Much faster than its predecessor, the second generation iPad
is actually quite similar to its big brother when it comes to navigating on the
Web, but it also presents itself as more of a content creation tool for
publishing on the Web, making it a device much better suited for two-way Web
needs. Like the iPhone, it comes equipped with a built-in, tablet-optimized
Safari browser, and there are some impressive third-party browser options
available for interested users. The second version is also powered by iOS 5.
Although it’s not nearly as revered or idolized as Apple,
Samsung has proven itself to be a beyond-competent mobile developer, and the Galaxy
SII is a great example of its acumen. Some have claimed that it is actually the
“world’s most powerful phone to date,” backed by a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM
Cortex-A9 processor and running on the Android Gingerbread operating system
(with an Ice Cream Sandwich update on the way).
And while being a powerful tool is critical to the demands
of Web users today, the Galaxy SII goes the extra mile by providing users with
a great interface for browsing that consists of a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus
display. One review called it “the yardstick by which every other phone
competing [this year] in terms of hardware specs was measured.”
Running on the Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS, this is widely considered to be the best Android phone
ever created. By building on the successes of the Galaxy SII, Samsung was
able to craft a superb device that is “everything Android ever aspired to be.”
Featuring a 4.65 inch HG Super AMOLED Contour Display and a
powerful processor specifically built for faster Web browsing and multitasking,
this phone is ideal for browsing the Web. So far, no better iPhone alternative
has presented itself or, perhaps more importantly, had the opportunity to
challenge Apple’s dominance in terms of the general public’s perception of what
a smartphone can be.
No product was more hotly anticipated this year than
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. At $199, a considerably lower price point than the iPad
2, the 7-inch tablet is a great alternative to Apple’s
industry-dominating device, especially as it allows for easy access into any of
Amazon’s other online properties, most notably the Kindle Store, Amazon Prime
and Amazon Cloud Storage.
The Kindle Fire runs on a customized version of the Android
Gingerbread OS and features a brand new Web browser, Amazon Silk, which has
received mixed reviews so far. Though the Kindle Fire may not be the optimal
mobile device for using the Web, there is no denying the impact it has had on
the tablet market. By dropping the price point significantly, Amazon has opened
up tablet adoption to a whole new range of consumers, and the screen size was
successful enough that there isn’t any shortage of rumors that Apple will
release a 7 inch “mini” version of the iPad 3 in 2012. In short, thanks to
Amazon and the Kindle Fire, tablet consumption is becoming even more