Desktop-Class Email and Web Browsing
Today we take the Safari and Mail apps on our iPhones for granted, but it’s difficult to overstate how revolutionary both of these were when the first iPhone came out.
Web browsing and email on mobile phones prior to the iPhone was a messy affair, with most mobile browsers rendering ugly text-heavy versions of sites with graphics either scaled down or removed altogether. Mobile mail apps were similarly limited to plain text. In short, surfing the web on a Blackberry or Palm was an exercise in frustration, and sending emails wasn’t much different than texting.
The iPhone’s Safari browser was the first to render full web pages properly. Further, since the iPhone supported such natural zooming and panning, it was easy for users to get around a web page and zoom in on what they wanted to read. Apple even implemented double-tap gestures to automatically zoom in on columns of text.
Similarly, Apple’s Mail app was the first to offer the kind of IMAP support that desktop users had become accustomed to, which meant full synchronization of email with the server and desktop client, plus the ability to render rich text and HTML emails in much the same way as web pages in Safari. Apple even partnered with Yahoo Mail to offer its own push email service since traditional desktop push technologies were too power-hungry to be effective on a mobile device.