The Grand Canyon Panorama Project is an HTML 5 web application, and runs successfully on a wide variety of computers, tablets, and smartphones and various browsers, but there are exceptions. The promise of HTML 5 is that an HTML 5 application should run in any browser that is ‘HTML 5 ready’, but the reality is quite different. The level of ‘HTML 5 readiness’ varies a great deal between browsers, and even between the same browser running on different devices and operating systems. Below is a list of device types and browsers, and we list, based on our testing, just what can and what can’t run the project. We will update this list over time to reflect the ever-changing web browser landscape.
Firefox on All Computers and Operating Systems
Firefox is a fine browser, but recent versions seem to be plagued with bugs that show up when you push it to the limit, as the Grand Canyon Panorama Project does. Unless you go into settings as disable hardware acceleration (read how to do it here), Firefox, in our testing, frequently completely freezes up when running the project. If you disable hardware acceleration it should run fine, but performance will be substandard. Our current recommendation (with the current version of Firefox being version 32 as of this writing) is to use a different browser, such as Google Chrome, to view the project.
Unfortunately, Firefox on Android does not provide any option to disable hardware acceleration, so your only option on Android is to use a different browser – again the recommendation is Chrome.
Desktop and Laptop Computers running Microsoft Windows
In our experience the best browser for running the project on Windows computers is Google Chrome, version 20 or higher. In our testing, Chrome runs the project perfectly on all Windows desktop computers, regardless of the version of Windows. Opera, version 15 or higher also works just fine.
Internet Explorer is a bit tricky. The project requires IE version 10 or higher, but IE 10+ will only run on Windows 7 or higher. If your computer is running Windows Vista or XP, you will have to install and use another browser, preferably Chrome, to run the project. Even if you get IE to run the project properly, performance is much better if you use Chrome instead of IE.
Apple Desktop and Laptop Computers
Apple’s built-in Safari browser, version 5.1 or higher, runs the project just fine, but for the best speed and stability Chrome is again our recommended browser for Apple desktop and laptop computers. The latest version of Opera will also run the project just fine on Apple computers.
When the current iPad and iPhone operating system, iOS 8, was first released, there were bugs in the Safari browser that made the project unstable – you would frequently see a message saying something like “There was a problem and the web page was reloaded”. The Safari bugs were fixed as of the iOS 8.1 update, so if your are running iOS 8 on an iPad, make sure that you are up to date.
The project is a pleasure to see on any iPad with a retina display. The high resolution of the retina display really shows off the panoramas. As a general rule the bigger, or more high density (like the retina display on iPads for the last few years) display you view the project on, the more you will enjoy it.
You can run the project on an iPhone, but you will be looking through a pretty tiny peephole. To really appreciate the panoramas, you need a screen larger than you can get on an iPhone, but if you are determined to view it on your iPhone then read on. As mentioned above for the iPad, iOS 8.0 was very buggy, so if your are running iOS 8 make sure you are up to date. Versions of iOS before 8 do run the project pretty well on an iPhone, but you may see some occasional instability. Chrome also works quite well on older iPhones and earlier versions of iOS, so you might want to try it if Safari gives you trouble. Your best bet, though, is an iPhone 5 or later running an up to date version of iOS 8.
Android Tablets and Phones
Android devices may or may not run the project successfully. There are a large number of different devices running various versions of the Android operating system, and we just cannot test them all. Our in-house testing has been conducted on just 2 devices, a Google/Asus Nexus 7 tablet and a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone. Let us know your experience with other Android devices!
In our testing, the one major Android browsers that consistently run the project successfully is the full version of Opera. The Opera mini browser, though, does not work.
Chrome is almost perfect, but occasionally has trouble playing narratives. We can tell when Chrome is having trouble with a narrative, and give you an option to try to play it again, and Chrome usually will succeed on the 2nd or 3rd try.
The stock Android browser generally works well, but, at least on the Samsung Galaxy S4, will not fully play narratives. You can hear the sound, but the graphics we display within narratives do not appear. We can tell if a browser will not display narrative graphics, and we put up a warning telling you that when you first try to play a narrative. If you see that warning, you can install and run another browser like Opera to get the full narrative experience.
Microsoft Surface Tablets and Other Windows Touch Tablets
The project will not run properly on older Surface tables – the Surface RT and the Surface 2. Looks like Microsoft is giving up on these devices, and I am too. The project will run on the Surface Pro 3, but you will have to install and run the Google Chrome browser to get it to work properly. There are problems with the touch interface within Internet Explorer, and I’m waiting for the authors of the map software the project uses to fix some bugs in their code before I can fix it.
Other Devices and Operating Systems
The known world ends with the above list. If you try to run the project in other environments, such as Linux, you are on your own, but we’d be interested to hear your results.