Safari DuckDuckGo shortcut becomes app??

asiga

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 4, 2012
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997
There’s something that is driving me nuts with iOS 12 on iPad: I didn’t install the DuckDuckGo app (just to be sure, I went to the AppStore, and it gives me the option to install it rather than opening it, so it’s not installed). I go to DuckDuckGo with Safari, then I create a shortcut icon on the home screen. I go to the home screen and press the new icon... and... oops, magic: it doesn’t seem to be Safari anymore: I see the DDG main screen, with the search field, but there’s a black bar at the top, and if I search and click on a result, then it switches to Safari... and at the top left of the screen you see an arrow for going back to DuckDuckGo????? What’s going on here?

The behavior is the same as when you click on a whatsapp link, it redirects it to Safari, and at the top left you see an arrow for going back to whatsapp.

And, to confirm the strange behavior, I double click the home button, and voilà, I see an instance of Safari and an instance of DuckDuckGo. Hello???? I didn’t install DDG!! I shouldn’t have any DDG app running!

I tried to do the same on another iPad running iOS 11 and I don’t get this strange behavior, so it seems to be something related to iOS 12.

Does iOS 12 come with the DDG app built in or what?

It’s very annoying. Do you have any idea on what’s going on, and how to disable it? Thanks!!
 

anzio

macrumors 6502
Dec 5, 2010
395
543
Innisfil, Ontario, Canada
This is because DuckDuckGo has "display": "standalone" in its manifest file. This hides all native OS elements (like Safari) and makes the web app run in an app-like appearance with no Safari controls (until, as you noticed, you click a link).

You're still using the website, it's just hiding the Safari UI to give a more native feel. You can either: reach out to DuckDuckGo and ask them if there's a workaround or alternative URL, or build your own redirect to DuckDuckGo with an app icon, and add that to your home screen (which will open Safari and redirect you to DuckDuckGo).

You definitely don't have a DuckDuckGo app pre-installed though.

Progressive web apps were added in iOS 11.3 and possibly improved in iOS 12. If your iPad is running an older version of iOS, it might not make any behavioural changes when you add it to the home screen.
 
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thingstoponder

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2014
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It's a progressive web app. Apple's implementation of it in iOS is very early and beta and it's pretty crappy. It sucks that you can't just go to Safari instead.
 

asiga

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 4, 2012
807
997
This is because DuckDuckGo has "display": "standalone" in its manifest file. This hides all native OS elements (like Safari) and makes the web app run in an app-like appearance with no Safari controls (until, as you noticed, you click a link).

You're still using the website, it's just hiding the Safari UI to give a more native feel. You can either: reach out to DuckDuckGo and ask them if there's a workaround or alternative URL, or build your own redirect to DuckDuckGo with an app icon, and add that to your home screen (which will open Safari and redirect you to DuckDuckGo).

You definitely don't have a DuckDuckGo app pre-installed though.

Progressive web apps were added in iOS 11.3 and possibly improved in iOS 12. If your iPad is running an older version of iOS, it might not make any behavioural changes when you add it to the home screen.
Thanks a lot for explaining the issue. The fact is that this "feature" is a serious step backwards in functionality, at least in its current status, because if you search with the DuckDuckGo progressive web app, and then you click on a search result (which redirects you to Safari), and later you want to go back to the search results... you click on the back arrow to DuckDuckGo on the upper left, but... ta-daaa... it drives you to the start page for DuckDuckGo: you lost your search results, and the search field is empty!!

I think I'm going to try to move away from Safari and try an alternate browser (I suppose there are workarounds for this problem, but it's not the first thing I dislike from modern Safari versions, and so it's been like the last reminder that I need to move).
[doublepost=1542280721][/doublepost]
[...] or build your own redirect to DuckDuckGo with an app icon, and add that to your home screen (which will open Safari and redirect you to DuckDuckGo).
That's what I'm doing. But on iOS you "install" PWAs exactly using that procedure: Visit the page with Safari, click the share button, then click on the add to home page button, and... you got a PWA in your home page. That icon doesn't redirect you to Safari, but runs the PWA instead.
 

anzio

macrumors 6502
Dec 5, 2010
395
543
Innisfil, Ontario, Canada
That's what I'm doing. But on iOS you "install" PWAs exactly using that procedure: Visit the page with Safari, click the share button, then click on the add to home page button, and... you got a PWA in your home page. That icon doesn't redirect you to Safari, but runs the PWA instead.
Sorry, I didn't explain it quite right. I meant if you create a simple HTML page including the meta tag with the DuckDuckGo icon for iOS to pickup, and add that page to your home screen, it'll give you that shortcut. Once it's on your home screen, add an instant redirect to the official DuckDuckGo website in your HTML. It's a little hacky, but it'll give you a DuckDuckGo shortcut to Safari for you (unless iOS somehow picks up the PWA files from the redirect. Disclaimer: I didn't really test this theory, but I feel like it will always open in Safari).

I know it's not ideal, but it's one potential workaround.
[doublepost=1542438873][/doublepost]
Aren’t these just web apps that the iPhone has supported since 2007?
Yeah, they're a more modern and standardized version of it, but iOS Safari has (for at least a very long time) supported web apps, including those that hide the Safari interface as long as the developers include the apple-mobile-web-app-capable meta tag on their website.

HTML:
<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-capable" content="yes">
 

one more

macrumors 65816
Aug 6, 2015
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Earth
A simple solution would be to set up DDG as your default search engine in Safari settings and then search from Safari address bar, as usual? This would eliminate the need for the DDG shortcut in the first place and you will get your search results in a “normal” Safari view.
 

asiga

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 4, 2012
807
997
A simple solution would be to set up DDG as your default search engine in Safari settings and then search from Safari address bar, as usual? This would eliminate the need for the DDG shortcut in the first place and you will get your search results in a “normal” Safari view.
The shortcut is really needed, because it's an iPad for elder people, and they need things as easy as possible.

Also, my idea of using other browsers is not possible, because Safari is the only one capable of creating shortcuts in the home page, AFAIK.
[doublepost=1542556173][/doublepost]
Sorry, I didn't explain it quite right. I meant if you create a simple HTML page including the meta tag with the DuckDuckGo icon for iOS to pickup, and add that page to your home screen, it'll give you that shortcut. Once it's on your home screen, add an instant redirect to the official DuckDuckGo website in your HTML. It's a little hacky, but it'll give you a DuckDuckGo shortcut to Safari for you (unless iOS somehow picks up the PWA files from the redirect. Disclaimer: I didn't really test this theory, but I feel like it will always open in Safari).
Actually, I found a much easier workaround, although it can fail at anytime if either DDG or Apple decide to change things again: DDG has a javascript-free URL at https://duckduckgo.com/html and if you go to that URL and create the shortcut from it, then you avoid getting the broken PWA. But, of course, it can fail at anytime in any future change...
 
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Ph.D.

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
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You could also consider trying Firefox, which allows you to use whichever search engine you like.

If you do, consider installing Firefox Focus as well. The latter is a stripped-down browser, but it's also an ad-blocker, so it's useful for that purpose alone (no need to actually browse with it). With a few taps, iOS will use it to block ads in all browsers including Safari and the full version of Firefox. No need for other blockers, if you are into that, as it's very effective.
 

asiga

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Nov 4, 2012
807
997
You could also consider trying Firefox, which allows you to use whichever search engine you like.

If you do, consider installing Firefox Focus as well. The latter is a stripped-down browser, but it's also an ad-blocker, so it's useful for that purpose alone (no need to actually browse with it). With a few taps, iOS will use it to block ads in all browsers including Safari and the full version of Firefox. No need for other blockers, if you are into that, as it's very effective.
That was my first try before finding the alternate URL workaround. But unfortunately Firefox cannot create shortcuts in the home page, so Safari is the only option, AFAIK.
 

papbot

macrumors 6502a
May 19, 2015
508
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There are quite a few sites that do the same thing. The Google news site does, and I think Apple Insider. I’ve had home screen icons for several similar ones and, as someone else mentioned, they essentially create a web app. I believe you could just create a bookmark and place it in the Favorites bar and it should keep you in the standard Safari layout while displaying that page.