A wireless access protocol (WAP) browser allows mobile devices, such as older cell phones, to access compatible web content. The mini-browser can use various Internet protocols to render web pages in plain text or simplified versions of the original web page. In order for a WAP browser to be effective, web developers often create separate WAP web pages for mobile devices. Otherwise, without WAP optimization, web content will generally take longer to load and may not render correctly on older mobile devices.
A WAP browser can be used to ena mobile devices such as phones and tablets to access web content.
During the early days of the Internet, mobile devices had limited system resources and screen size, which made loading Internet-based content such as email, instant messaging, and newsgroups a challenge. When the WAP protocol was introduced in 1997, it allowed very small devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) to access limited Internet-based content. The first WAP web pages were made using handheld markup language (HDML) and wireless markup language (WML).
The wireless application protocol was an early technology that allowed older cell phones to access website content.
HDML and WML allowed optimization of device data transfer rates and small screen size. WAP browsers were originally designed to render WAP pages using transfer rates of 14.4 kilobytes per second (Kbps) or less. Before the increase in screen size and resolution found in today’s mobile devices, early cell phones and PDAs were limited to very small screens with resolutions measuring around 150 by 150 pixels. Most web pages are designed to be viewed at 640 by 480 pixels or more, which created a problem for most mobile devices. When accessing a supported web page, the WAP browser was able to easily render the supported web pages at the device’s native resolution size, avoiding the need for larger screens and resolution sizes.
Today, the WAP browser has evolved to support additional Internet languages such as Compact Hypertext Markup Language (CHTML) and Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML). Additional Internet language support has made it possible for newer mobile devices with WAP browsers to render popular XHTML media elements. Older form factors such as small screen cell phones still use the WAP browser to render web pages. Newer touchscreen handheld mobile devices may still support WAP-based web pages. However, today’s mobile devices are getting more and more powerful and can handle displaying web pages in their entirety.
Some might argue that full-purpose mobile web browsers eliminate the need for WAP pages and browsers. While today’s mobile technology makes it possible to fully render the web page, WAP technology can still be useful, especially for those who still have older and less advanced mobile devices. Considering that WAP technology reduces web content to a minimum, using a WAP browser can dramatically increase web page load time and decrease server load.
Some say full-purpose mobile web browsers eliminate the need for WAP pages and browsers.