Accelerated Mobile Pages

On my to-do list, under the “software” category, there was an item on enabling Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on this blog. I figured it’d take some research plus a bit of coding and styling, seeing how the standard is still relatively recent.

Turns out all I needed was a plugin that took 5 seconds to install.

AMP is a standard that Google started pushing a couple of months back, around the same time that Facebook Instant Articles threatened to completely commoditize written media even as mobile ad blockers looked to destroy what was left in online advertising dollars. It promises to enable faster webpages on mobile devices, really via a simplified implementation of website-rendering code — stripping out slower techniques and non-standardized ad code — that in some ways spiritually succeeds the WAP-based mobile web circa 2005.

Of the ways to get a better user experience on mobile devices, I like the direction that AMP is taking mostly because it’s universally assessable (e.g., it doesn’t require custom apps nor business deals) and builds on the openness of the web. Philosophically, using the same technologies which were originally designed to serve documents and content also feels like the right approach.

That said, it’s hard to reconcile these new product developments when the web community has made so much progress in figuring out the mobile story already. Front-end developers celebrated when responsive design gained traction and was first embraced by large sites, while browser standards bodies continue to move towards adding more APIs and capabilities for developers to optimize when and how their code runs on a page. Perhaps it speaks more to the idea of major tech companies offering simplified, pre-packaged solutions over the more difficult custom, lower leveled implementation.

Time will tell whether AMP will make any impact on sites when anybody who bothers with implementing AMP will likely already have a fully-functioning mobile-optimized site already (present blog included). Luckily, for WordPress sites, getting rid of it should take no more than disabling a plugin.

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