Web developers (developers, developers): I need you to listen to me. Are you listening? Good. Stop trying to be smart about detecting browser capabilities. You almost always get this wrong. Usually it’s because you’re used to a single platform and only test on others and so you’re not always up to speed on how the various browsers of the world work.

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It’s been eight months since I griped about a lack of a swipe-to-navigate gesture in Mobile Safari. There’s still been no progress, despite iOS 4 having come out since then. I think I have the reason why and a compromise. The basic problem is that web pages can be horizontally scrolled. The deeper problem, I suspect, may be “not invented here syndrome” on Apple’s part.

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I sent my first e-mail to Steve Jobs a few minutes ago. I think iPad’s Mobile Safari is sorely missing the swipe-to-navigate gesture. I eagerly await his response (I’m even holding my breath). In the meantime, I’d like to opine.

Here’s the letter:

Greetings, Mr. Jobs: On the iPad, the screen is blessedly large, but the “back” navigation button in Mobile Safari is relatively small. I find I have to tap it several times because I “miss” the area when browsing quickly.I’m a long-time MacBook user and now also have a Magic Mouse for my desktop. I find the n-finger-swipe-to-navigate gesture indispensable with Safari. The gesture is now so deeply ingrained, I find myself doing it constantly on the iPad with disappointing results. It’s a bit of a surprise that the touch-rich iPad experience lacks this very powerful and magical gesture. At the risk of earning a “magical gesture” from you, PLEASE bring swipe navigation to the iPad very soon – the platform demands it!

To elaborate, I understand why the gesture was never implemented in the iPhone / iPod Touch version of Mobile Safari. The screen is just too small. So small, it doesn’t even invite the gesture. I myself have never once tried to swipe-to-navigate. The iPad, on the other hand, invites this gesture almost as a reflex, if you’re used to either the MacBook / Pro trackpad or the new Magic Mouse.

It bothers me to no end that this gesture is not available on the iPad. So much, I’m willing to risk a soul-crushing, snarky reply from Steve. I’m torn between “Please be gentle,” and “Thank you Sir, may I have another?”