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I review the current technology for accessing the Web using wireless handheld devices. There is a lot of excitement in the news about the wireless Internet. The current technology is limited, but fortunately, everything is about to change in the wireless world. We are about to face changes across the board in wireless Internet access: infrastructure, devices, and user interfaces will all change dramatically. However, if there isn't a common glue between devices and servers connected to the wireless Internet, the growth will be slower than expected. One of HTML's most important contributions has been its ability to provide a glue. The fact that all servers and browsers use a common markup language is one factor in the global spread of Internet usage. HTML's successor should be able to keep up with the multiplication of display devices of different types and capabilities. If we can clearly organize the language into classes of features and embrace, rather than isolate, different user interface modalities, we will witness again a rapid growth, similar to the Web's early days.
Date of Publication: Sep/Oct 2000