Ever more often, businesses want their website to make a good impression on mobile devices. And they are right! Mobile web surfers have already become an important segment, and as a user of mobile internet I can personally attest that when a site is not well optimized for mobile, I simply go to a competitor.
And naturally, web developers like me have to keep up with the pace. I certainly know the theory behind mobile optimization; I’ve been doing mobile for years. The only problem is that there are so many different mobile devices to choose from — but any person who is prudent about their finances can only own one.
That’s it. I have one smartphone, my trusty old Nokia N8, and that can be a problem if I want to test a website that I’m currently developing. A site should be tested at least on the latest iOS and Android platforms, and the few “simulators” available on the web don’t accurately replicate the phone’s features at all. Many of them just slap an IE rendering engine on top of a small window designed to match a phone’s screen size, and that’s all.
Oh well, official emulators are available. But the Android SDK is slow and heavy, and the Apple equivalent is only available for the Mac. Is there a chance for a poor developer working on an old Windows XP laptop?
Well, I finally found the answer – Keynote DeviceAnywhere Free. It’s a cool service in “the cloud” that is there to help. I would describe it as something like a Remote Desktop for phones. And the best thing is that you don’t have to pay for it (unless you need to use this thing heavily and want to get one of their Enterprise plans). It allows you to pick any of the available devices (there’s a good variety of real iPhone and Android phones), and control it over the Internet, getting a real-time video feed from its screen. The time limit is 10 minutes — after that you have to release the device, but you can immediately provision a phone again if nobody else is using it.
10 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it’s really more than enough to preview a web page. I feel I’ll be using this tool a lot!