Google and the 3DS browser
After checking I hadn't turned anything off in the settings, and doing some searching to see if anyone had mentioned it, I asked on Twitter to see if anyone else was having the same problem
Thomas Beduneau replied saying he couldn't see any problems on his browser. So I tried just typing in a link rather than searching Google for one, and the site showed up how I'd expected it to.
I asked Thomas to try what I'd done, and sure enough, he saw what I was seeing too.
@anna_debenham looks like you dont leave google and it serves you a basic template with the content of the page :s— Thomas Beduneau (@Enwin) September 30, 2013
@anna_debenham @jaffathecake all links are redirecting to /gwt/ : http://t.co/7ELLoYDAmu— Thomas Beduneau (@Enwin) September 30, 2013
I guess they're trying to be helpful to users of devices that wouldn't normally be able to cope with complex websites. The 3DS browser is not as capable as most smart phones, but it's actually not that bad either, for a console browser.
It used to run an Opera browser, but now it's a Netfront one that's been improving over the years. It uses its own typeface for sites to make them easier to read on the pixellated screen, and it handles layout ok.
There are also a lot of features built into it to make browsing pages easier, like you can turn off layout in the settings if you want to, and text can wrap so it's not longer than the viewport.
So I'd be really interested to know the thinking behind why Google have done this. Is it just over-zealous browser sniffing, or do they really think the 3DS's browser isn't good enough to show sites as they were designed? And if it is intentional and something Google will continue doing, I guess it's another good example of why progressive enhancement is still so important.