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I found this one on UserVoice, and I thought it was fitting to bring it up here for further discussion.

"Stack Overflow already works with Mobile Safari, but the experience is far from optimum. I believe an iPhone-optimized version (or maybe even a native client) would be perfect. I can help with either."

I personally think a some kind of mobile version of Stack Overflow would be great for using as a reference, but using it to ask questions would probably get cumbersome if you had to type up a long question with full description. However, using it to look up an answer when you're away from your desk would be awesome.

But, why not just use the regular Stack Overflow? Well, we all know that the small, touch screens get cumbersome to use when navigating websites built for desktops.

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The desktop site doesn't work out very well on Android, there's a lot of left right scrolling due to the fixed layout and side bar. Navigation using the menu isn't convenient either. From experience , it doesn't take much to make a space phone friendly layout - especially with a linear info like SO. The BBC mobile site is probably the best phone optimised site I use and a good model for SO: bbc.co.uk/mobile –  Colonel Sponsz Jul 13 '09 at 10:18
    
Safari/iPhone display of code boxes which are oversized (and would display scrollbars on desktop) do not display scrollbars; so you can't actually read all the code. (Unless there's some nonobvious trick I'm blind to). –  Dave Gamble Jul 13 '09 at 13:32
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@Dave There is a completely non-obvious trick to viewing overflowing text boxes: do a two finger swipe in the box. –  Daniel Dickison Jul 13 '09 at 20:13
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You would have a great UX for serverfault. Imagine if every admin with an iphone was able to serverfault from right in front of the server rack? –  Spence Jul 14 '09 at 11:03
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The iPhone version of Flickr, m.flickr.com, is also an example of a very well designed iPhone site. For browsing I think I even prefer it over the regular version. The only thing they should change is the amount of activity you get to see, way too long. –  Maurice Aug 17 '09 at 6:57
    
I agree that creating questions on an iPhone would be troublesome, but ability to draft questions that could be finished on a desktop would be awesome. –  bryanbcook Sep 2 '09 at 18:29
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The "status-completed" tag was added, but I don't see any guidance of how this was completed. m.stackoverflow.com doesn't work -- nor do i., iphone. or mobile. –  Doug Harris Jun 3 '10 at 16:00
    
@Doug Harris Check down at the bottom of the questions, there's an answer from Jeff explaining it. –  Colonel Sponsz Jul 22 '10 at 19:04
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Ah -- for those others which upvoted my question, Jeff's answer is "we created an API, go do it yourself". As of today, that answer is at -7. –  Doug Harris Aug 2 '10 at 18:30
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@Jeff is this status-completed due to the API or something new? –  C. Ross Sep 24 '10 at 15:17
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@C.Ross: Check out StackMobile. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Sep 24 '10 at 16:55
    
@Daniel thank you, the inability to scroll text areas was the biggest pain point for me. Also, I sure wish there was an easy way to get a backtick for inline code on the iPhone. –  ErikE Jun 6 '11 at 21:23
    
I would like to vote for an android version of the stacktrace.com app. –  Burhan Khalid Apr 26 '12 at 6:53
    
Even just posting a comment on a mobile device is one of the most odious and frustrating experiences I've ever had. Try finding backticks, square brackets, curly braces and ampersands on a touchscreen keyboard... –  Kerrek SB Feb 10 at 2:14
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20 Answers

One thing that I often find myself doing is checking the status of my questions (or reputation, answers, votes, comments, etc.) Perhaps that would be a good place to start - optimize for viewing profile information, reputation information, and browsing questions - rather than editing.

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+1, having an SO reader on my Android phone would be killer. Search, reading, and voting would be the 3 must-haves. Commenting, editing, and creating questions would be nice-to-haves. –  STW Jul 29 '09 at 17:17
    
I use my Crackberry for this as well. The BlackBerry browser tried to hard to be an iPhone on too small a screen so it ends up not working well. –  Rob Allen Aug 27 '09 at 18:50
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A mobile might be a good idea for those who can't access the web version for some reason.

  • contractors/consultants at customer sites who can't log on using the clients network (for whatever reason) and need the answer to an urgent question.

  • system administrators whose entire network has gone down and need to ask the collective wisdom that is Server Fault.

  • commuters who need to have a bright idea on the way home from work.

I know these might sound a bit contrived, but you get the idea.

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Even download favourited questions for later offline browsing is good idea for native clients IMO. –  DASKAjA Jul 4 '09 at 10:26
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Offline SO browsing is a great idea for an entrepreneurial type to write an iPhone app... Hopefully it won't be denied by Apple because someone managed to asked a programming related question about the Kama Sutra. –  spoulson Jul 13 '09 at 14:02
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Apple would be more likely to deny it because of all the iPhone programming questions that break their crazy dev agreement. –  CoderDennis Jul 13 '09 at 22:43
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My concern with mobile is that we will get short Twitteristic answers like this as opposed to well thought out 300 word Skeetistic masterpieces.

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At 143 characters, not Twitteristic enough! –  jrcs3 Jul 5 '09 at 19:28
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Skeetistic should be an official word and tag. –  Troggy Jul 22 '09 at 20:44
    
@Troggy: Try to use it in comments to his posts –  jrcs3 Jul 23 '09 at 1:34
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I like Skeetesque myself :) –  Adam Neal Mar 31 '10 at 21:53
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How about Skeettastic? –  ceejayoz Apr 7 '10 at 12:55
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My #1 request is to remove the JavaScript Markdown preview on mobile platforms.

I can only do Stack Overflow readonly on my iPhone — which I use for 80% of the time—because the JavaScript Markdown previewer makes the page jump all over the place while I type; always ending up at the top of the page (whereas the box I'm typing in is at the bottom of the page).

(This was typed in the notepad of my iPhone and copied/pasted here. It is possible just extremely inefficient)

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Wow, I never thought of typing my answer somewhere else. I agree, it's almost impossible to write anything on SO because of all the jumping. –  alex Sep 23 '09 at 9:59
    
the jumping is very, very fast on the 3gs though. Not kidding! Enough so that I didn't notice it initially. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 18 '09 at 11:55
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this is completed -- we suppress the live javascript preview for mobiles –  Jeff Atwood Mar 27 '10 at 0:40
    
Jumping still occurs on Android 2.1 on a HTC Desire for me. –  Adam Lindberg Apr 21 '10 at 7:39
    
@adam depends what the user-agent string is. We match on android [\d\.]+ which covers "android 1231" "android 1.1" etc –  Jeff Atwood May 20 '10 at 21:43
    
Jumping still occurs on my Nokia N900. @Jeff –  oKtosiTe Apr 23 '11 at 13:37
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I posted the original suggestion on UserVoice, and I later developed a native iPhone application (as discussed here, the screenshots are from an older version).

First of all, for iPhone users, there's a huge difference between a mobile-optimized website and a native app. Therefore, even if there was a mobile-optimized version, I would still continue developing the native app.

Now, back to reality. The RSS feeds don't provide enough information (votes, views, etc.), and therefore the app parses the XHTML, which is quite fragile. Given the time it takes for Apple to approve new versions and bug fixes, even seemingly small changes in the markup could cause the app to stop functioning for weeks, and this is precisely why I haven't released the application yet.

That being said, if an official API is ever released, we can have a fully functional app in a matter of weeks.

As I've said before, the app will of course be completely free, and I'm willing to publish the code under GPL.

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I second an API. There are plenty of talented developers out there who would make great apps in no time. –  Adam Lindberg Apr 21 '10 at 7:46
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Check out StackMobile:

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Very good, but not possible to log in. –  awe Nov 22 '11 at 9:23
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On my (admittedly poor) mobile phone (an LG Dare), I realized yesterday I was unable to search SO at all. I can enter a search term into the search box, but then...there is no search button. I tried poking at that little magnifying lens icon with the tiniest part of my tiniest finger, thinking maybe that was the search button, but (as I have since verified) it is just a pretty picture. So, at a bare minimum, can we at least get a proper search button?

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see also meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/11770/… –  pfctdayelise Sep 23 '09 at 1:19
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What I'd consider important (I think this is a wishlist thread by now) is a fallback solution for the Ajax functionality. For some reason, Opera Mobile on my HTC (but I think I have seen other users talk about this) doesn't work well with the Ajaxy stuff. Examples:

  • When I click "Page 2" on my answer list, I don't get an updated list on the original page, but I get a new page consisting only of the actual questions on Page 2, unstyled. Okay, that can almost be considered a fallback.

  • When I vote on a post, the corresponding arrow lights up and the score is updated, because these two are client-side JavaScript, which works. But the vote is never registered; when I reload, the vote is gone.

  • When I retrieve comments on a post where some comments are hidden, the Ajax loader icon appears, but then---nothing.

  • When I click "Add Comment", instead of posting my comment, the page is reloaded without a new comment.

I realize that this is probably an Opera Mobile issue [if someone knows of a fix, I'd be glad to hear], so a fallback solution for this will be a low priority thing. On the other hand, I don't personally care about an iPhone app ;-)

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Seems to be an Opera mobile issue, I get similar issues using Opera on iPhone, though I had wondered if was Apple control freakery initially. –  David Thomas May 16 '10 at 19:04
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When I answer a technical question on Stack Overflow, I generally write some code, run it through the compiler to check it, and then post all or selected bits of it when I'm happy that I'm both conceptually and syntactically correct. I can't see how this can be done on a mobile (for example, you can't host iPhone development on an iPhone), and I believe it would result in a lowering of quality of answers.

Also, I believe the mobile phone is the invention of Beelzebub, but that's another issue.

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I can write code on iPhone. Actually, I wrote python on my numerical linear algebra exam at college ;) –  LeakyCode Jul 6 '09 at 9:22
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@Mehrdad, so you cheated?! What colleges allow mobile phones during exams? –  Ian Elliott Jul 8 '09 at 0:41
    
Since this meta seems to serve as a meta for the whole SE network, I don't think that argument holds. (I'm writing on a phone, by the way.) –  oKtosiTe Apr 23 '11 at 13:27
    
I write SQL code on my iPhone in answers and have few problems with it. I might make mistakes, but then, that's always a possibility. Sometimes later when at a desktop I go back and touch up my answer. –  ErikE Jun 6 '11 at 21:27
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I have been hacking around with this:

http://www.echo-technology.co.uk/2009/10/21/stackoverflow-iphone-app-solving-non-existant-problems/

StackApp

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Nice. I would love to see this on app store. –  Isak Savo May 24 '10 at 19:05
    
oops, dead link... –  fretje Jul 5 '11 at 17:04
    
I have found an alternative for the link, using the Web archive: web.archive.org/web/20100413113418/http://… –  Rob W Dec 29 '11 at 9:31
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267 KB (as of, er, just now) is a bit heavy for a mobile front page too (figure according to Pocket IE) - if you are going to have an iPhone client, a Windows Mobile client would also make sense.

To go down the mobile optimised web approach, there are a few obvious tweaks (smaller font sizes), and a few less than obvious ones (don't show comments by default).

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Even a client for Android phones would be nice. –  DASKAjA Jul 4 '09 at 10:24
    
At the risk of offending windows mobile users that are also developers are there enough winmobile users to warrant all the hacks to make stackoverflow workable on mobile IE?! I'd love to see some stats about mobile access of StackOverflow I'm sure they would be very enlightening! ;-) –  scunliffe May 25 '11 at 0:23
    
@Scunliffe The Stack Exchange sites work OK on the mobile browser, it's just bandwidth heavy; with mobile tariffs typically charging 1 GBP per Mb over quota, this could lead very quickly to someone racking up a large phone bill. –  Rowland Shaw May 25 '11 at 8:03
    
understood, the "unlimited" plans in the U.S. don't seem to have escaped to the rest of the world (In Canada they are an arm and a leg too) - I was just a bit more curious what percentage of the active mobile web users are on a mobile IE device? I'd have to guess that they are fighting for a sliver of a percent of the market. –  scunliffe May 25 '11 at 13:28
    
@scunliffe: Sounds like this answer is a request for a native app for WinMo6.x, not a site that works fantastic in Mobile IE (plus there are other mobile browsers) –  Ben Voigt Oct 7 '11 at 0:18
    
@BenVoigt Exactly what I was saying (although Windows Phone 7.x would be more appropriate now) –  Rowland Shaw Oct 7 '11 at 8:46
    
@RowlandShaw: Not sure about that -- the most technically oriented geeks have been staying away from that locked-down no-native-apps-allowed platform. –  Ben Voigt Oct 7 '11 at 13:42
    
@BenVoigt I'm not most people, it seems –  Rowland Shaw Oct 7 '11 at 16:30
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I think a mobile version is a great idea, and I'm curious what percentage of mobile users are iPhone users. Perhaps a mobile version specifically geared toward the iPhone is in order if the numbers are great enough?

For example, look at what Google has done on their apps such as Mail, Reader, Calendar, etc. No need to go to those extremes, but those apps are nearly as good as native iPhone apps. Perhaps better in that they don't require a download or updates.

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I'm really satisfied browsing Stack Overflow via my iPhone except for one thing:

Large blocks of code are missing their scrollbars in Safari.

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Use both fingers to scroll the blocks. Not easy for one liners but it works –  Isak Savo May 24 '10 at 19:06
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I found several applications for iPhone. I have downloaded both and tested them. If you want to play with them, then you can find it here:

  1. MyStacks (free)
  2. Stack View ($0.99)

enter image description here

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I've been using Opera Mini in Mobile View to visit the Stack sites quite happily for several days now - not been near a PC for a week. It works very well, apart from the lack of help adding tags and of course the impracticality of typing much code on a phone.

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Yea, I just tried too, surprisingly nice experience. Though no full Ajax, the fallback on potsback works well. –  o.k.w Oct 20 '09 at 2:24
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For Android you can use Droidstack to view. And don't forget SOflair.

SO works fine on my HTC Incredible browser except that the answer/comment box is too wide.

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StackTrace for iPad is available now. You can get it in the AppStore.

With StackTrace, we have taken a unique approach to consuming Stack Overflow content. Instead of focusing on finding answers to your current problems we're tailoring the experience for reading and discovery. There is significant, great content on Stack Exchange and lots can be learned from reading the experiences of others. A bit more of our approach can be found here.

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Congrats, although this might be better off on Stackapps. –  Moshe Feb 9 '12 at 5:31
    
Thanks, we've posted @ StackApps. –  Ben Feb 10 '12 at 19:30
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I have an application I've been building for fun based on the Stack Overflow CC data dump. I've created my own API that sits on top of it, so it isn't a massive application with all the data sitting in it. I'm wondering if anyone would want to beta. If I could get four or five people and some feedback maybe it is worth submitting to App Store. If anyone is interested you can contact me.

I never had any beta takers, so I went ahead with what I had. It is now live in App Store for those who are interested: iTunes link. I'm still looking for beta testers if people are interested since I have some more ideas and I would like to have input.

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It's an app for what? –  random Aug 22 '09 at 13:01
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Can this question be like a "tracker" question for related bugs? I don't really get how using Stack Overflow software for bug tracking works - if indeed that is what we are supposed to be doing. But I didn't find anywhere else to file bugs.

Anyway, this is a more specific request that would be excellent as part of general mobile-display-related improvements: A user search option from a mobile phone.

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Although the question is old, it is still relevant; so I'm replying because I've recently started using Bootstrap 3.0 (found over at http://getbootstrap.com) and LESS 1.6 (http://lesscss.org). Both or either of these technologies can be bolted onto the existing SO framework in a relatively painless way and provide options to make the SO website responsive to screens of varying sizes.

I'm near completion of my first project with this technology and believe it would make an adequate transitional solution before the next site version. Capabilities such as producing mobile only viewable divs (based on screen size) allow one to target multiple screens with very little impact to your existing paradigm (as you are just adding more CSS classes to existing divs). Since most mobile solutions are HTML5 compatible one would expect to reach a large segment of the target audience.

I think this is a good solution because it is the simplest possible thing one could do (of course other than doing nothing).

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Stack Overflow already has a mobile website and an app available... I don't really see your point. –  Hugo Dozois Feb 9 at 18:57
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