Safari on iPadOS Optimized to Work With at Least Some Desktop Versions of Websites

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Apple's upcoming iPadOS is designed to bring more desktop-class functionality to iPads with bigger screens, and as part of that aim, Safari is receiving a major overhaul that will enable it to display desktop versions of websites.


In the first instance, Apple is going about this by adapting Safari's mobile "user agent" - that aspect of the software which retrieves and renders interaction with web content - to enable the iOS browser to retrieve the desktop variety of a website by default, rather than its mobile counterpart.

In addition to that, Apple appears to be custom-optimizing the iPadOS Safari user agent to include touch- and keyboard-based interaction with at least some popular websites. As highlighted by The Verge's Dieter Bohn in his brief testing of Google Docs, Apple has made it possible to use touch to hit the menu buttons.
Google Docs has long been a huge problem on the iPad, for two reasons. First, Google's own iPad app is god-awful and the company seems hell-bent on not updating it to work better. Second, Google Docs in Safari on the iPad right now redirects you to that app even if you "Request Desktop Site."

On iPadOS, however, Google Docs in Safari seems great.

Admittedly, I only spent about five minutes poking around, but I went straight for the stuff I didn't expect to work at all -- and it worked. Keyboard shortcuts for formatting and header styling, comments, cursor placement, and even watching real-time edits from another person in the doc all worked.
For the productivity suite, Safari for iPadOS seems to be re-rendering the web-based interface to align it more with the site's desktop functionality. Granted, we don't know yet how far this optimization extends - is it only available for a handful of commonly used desktop sites, for example, or will Apple's implementation be more extensible? - but it's at least a sign that Apple is doing a lot under the hood to make Safari on iPad more of a desktop-class user experience.

iPadOS will incorporate several features that recognize the tablet's function as a potential computer replacement, including a new Home screen, an updated Split View to enhance multitasking, improved Apple Pencil support, and additional keyboard shortcuts for use with physical keyboards. iPadOS is due to get its public release in the fall.

Article Link: Safari on iPadOS Optimized to Work With at Least Some Desktop Versions of Websites
 

oneMadRssn

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,199
12,111
Europe
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

upload_2019-6-6_15-49-0.png

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
 

MikhailT

macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
4,461
1,062
I just wanna be able to log into my damn Synology router on my iPad instead of having to be at my Mac or remoted into my pc on my iPad
I just did that yesterday to whitelist some site in Safe Access, it works the same way as it does on the desktop.
 
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Pbrutto

macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2015
608
1,274
Eastern PA
I just did that yesterday to whitelist some site in Safe Access, it works the same way as it does on the desktop.
That’s the problem, I’m running threat detection and that isn’t a tab (at least not yet) in the app so I have to use the desktop. I haven’t been running it that long and I am still monitoring the load on the router to make sure I don’t max it.....so far so good.
 

Donovan Dillon

macrumors regular
Jan 31, 2014
129
107
Denver, CO

Apple's upcoming iPadOS is designed to bring more desktop-class functionality to iPads with bigger screens, and as part of that aim, Safari is receiving a major overhaul that will enable it to display desktop versions of websites.
I’m loving the improvements — however iCloud.com is still rendering the mobile site which launches the discrete apps. I can’t wait for this to be corrected.
 

Pakaku

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
2,258
2,340
We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
Like what, requesting a desktop version of a website? Because IMO it is painful to use full-sized websites on a phone-sized screen, especially when you consider the fact that they were only 3.5" back then.

Mobile-optimized websites do work fine in theory, it's just a matter of when they actually work, and Google clearly is the one at fault for not making their own websites properly support phones.
 

petvas

macrumors 601
Jul 20, 2006
4,690
755
Mannheim, Germany
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

View attachment 841353
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
Well, I understand how this could be confusing, but the iPhone did change mobile Internet. DO you remember how things were before the iPhone? The iPhone did improve things a lot and of course content was made especially for the iPhone. Websites are optimised for the iPhone and work really nice on the iPhone. On the iPad though, all we got was the same browser, with the same restrictions, with no way to distinguish between Safari on the iPhone and on the iPad. This is apparently changing now, so let's hope that we will get a better experience in Safari on the iPad.
 

LawJolla

macrumors member
Sep 29, 2013
48
392
The demo they showed at the keynote was misleading. Most responsive web design is done with CSS media queries that adjust element sizes and layouts based on the browser's viewport size. There is no way for Apple to change those (nor would they want to)
 

Shawn Parr

macrumors regular
Oct 31, 2008
191
97
I don't think I have ever seen a more inaccurate summary in my life. Holy cow this is off the rails:

In the first instance, Apple is going about this by adapting Safari's mobile "user agent" - that aspect of the software which retrieves and renders interaction with web content - to enable the iOS browser to retrieve the desktop variety of a website by default, rather than its mobile counterpart.
No, a user agent doesn't retrieve or render anything. It is a string, just some text, that say what browser it is and what version, and often lists similar browser rendering engines that it should be compatible with. It is literally just a description of the browser. The server then determines what to send back based on that.

For the productivity suite, Safari for iPadOS seems to be re-rendering the web-based interface to align it more with the site's desktop functionality.
Not even close. Safari on iPad changes how it responds to certain events in on the page. There is no re-rendering. The big obvious one is that if an element has both a hover and a click event, iPad Safari sends the hover first, then waits to see if the page changes at all (as it would on any desktop browser when hovered over, i.e. not re-rendered), and if it does change then it doesn't send the click, so that the user can see the new content and decide to tap on a new option. If the page doesn't change it sends the click after a short delay (a couple hundred milliseconds is what they said in the session on Desktop class browsing at WWDC).

The big change is that Safari on iPad now reports, via the user agent, that it is MacOS, not iOS, and they've updated how it handles events that can have conflicts on a touch based device.
 

Shawn Parr

macrumors regular
Oct 31, 2008
191
97
The demo they showed at the keynote was misleading. Most responsive web design is done with CSS media queries that adjust element sizes and layouts based on the browser's viewport size. There is no way for Apple to change those (nor would they want to)
If the site is responsive they just go with it, with one caveat. If they determine that the metadata to say be responsive is there, but the CSS causes the page to break out of the viewport they might shrink the page to fit.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,972
14,677
Central U.S.
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

View attachment 841353
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
Stupid developers doing stupid things with user agent strings and crap they shouldn't be messing with.

Mobile first with progressive enhancement. Boom, done. Don't get why so many companies and developers don't do this. If anything it's easier than making a bunch of custom versions for different user agent strings. You only maintain a single codebase for your site, and everything is neatly packaged into breakpoints with fewer and fewer modifications as you scale up. Build your site to be lean and functional on mobile and you have a great foundation for a desktop class site from the start. Instead, a lot of companies keep their existing desktop site and do stupid device tests that load completely separate bits of code. Sometimes the iPad version is so stripped down that it's practically unusable. Drives me crazy because it doesn't have to be that way.
 

now i see it

macrumors 603
Jan 2, 2002
5,368
10,861
12 years
12 years!

Since iPhone was first revealed and many websites are completely unusable on iOS. The web experience on iPhone is so hit or miss due to VERY lazy webmasters. It's often like 1995 (or a lot worse) browsing the web on iPhone.

Wake up lazy webmasters! There's a billion of us iPhone users
 

BootsWalking

macrumors 65816
Feb 1, 2014
1,306
7,641
Sounds promising. Besides the user-agent customization Apple is doing, Web designers will also need to adjust to this hybrid mobile-and-desktop version of the Safari agent to tweak the layout for best rendering.
 
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kirky29

macrumors 65816
Jun 17, 2009
1,468
308
Lincolnshire, England
Looking forward to using Squarespace as mentioned in the Keynote! Funny though, Squarespace have just released an iOS app but didn't originally release one for iPad, then because of 1000's of bad reviews they released a version a few weeks ago.... now Apple has done this!
 
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haydn!

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2008
1,020
984
UK
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

View attachment 841353
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
Times have changed ALOT since then. iPhone did offer desktop standard browsing. The full internet (minus flash) was accessible from an iPhone. But in reality, browsing a website on a 3.5inch screen sucked - hence the shift to responsive web design.

iOS hasn’t back tracked, the internet changed to become more optimised for smaller screens. Largely because it made business sense as it makes content easier to interact with.

Now, many websites have taken responsiveness to the next level. Not just changing how a site looks based on the screen size, but offering different functionality based on device/screen size too. What this change appears to do, is deliver all websites as if they’re being accessed from non mobile/non-touch focused device.
 

sfwalter

macrumors 68000
Jan 6, 2004
1,877
982
Dallas Texas
Did they make under the hood improvements to Safari for the desktop experience or are they just returning a different browser agent so that websites think its the desktop version of Safari?
 
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rafark

macrumors 65816
Sep 1, 2017
1,052
1,565
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

View attachment 841353
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
But they were right. Safari for iPhone has been a desktop class browser since version 1. Safari mobile uses the same engine as its desktop counterparts.

Websites have optimized their sites to be **displayed** in a different way on mobile, but in most cases, the mobile and desktop versions of a modern site are running the same code base.

The "desktop class" terminology used this past keynote was bs and I do think they bastardized the term first used in 2007.

Also, the author of this article has little idea what a user agent is (it's just a line of text), and this user agent is set to safari desktop when you request a desktop site, which is in a lot of cases worthless as most websites use the viewport dimensions to adapt its layout to the screen, while others use a combination of ua + viewport dimensions and then a few minority just use the user agent.

I'm guessing apple is now rendering a 1200px wide safari + setting the user agent as Mac os safari on the iPad pros.
 
Last edited:

squizzler

Suspended
Feb 11, 2019
161
578
You Kay
Can anyone check if WhatsApp for Desktop works alright? Literally can’t use WhatsApp on my iPad and it drives me.
 

lunarworks

macrumors 68000
Jun 17, 2003
1,972
5,203
Toronto, Canada
This whole narrative is a bit frustrating. iPhoneOS 1.0 promised a "desktop class browser" back in 2007. Look at this press release for example:

View attachment 841353
https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2007/01/09Apple-Reinvents-the-Phone-with-iPhone/

The whole point from the very beginning of iPhone was that the browser was a proper real browser and better than that WAP crud we had before. Then mobile optimization happened and we seemed to have ended up with something better than WAP but still not the promised desktop-class browser.

We keep being promised desktop-class browsing, but that seems to be elusive. What gives?
None of this is on Apple. The iPhone did provide a desktop class browser back in 2007. If you compared it to what was available on Symbian, Windows Mobile, and BlackBerry, it was like night and day. It's the web developers that crafted mobile-optimized sites who made phones feel second class again.

What's going on is that iPad will no longer identify as a mobile device, so webservers will properly serve non-mobile sites to it.
 

eatrains

macrumors 6502
Mar 11, 2006
374
3,530
The demo they showed at the keynote was misleading. Most responsive web design is done with CSS media queries that adjust element sizes and layouts based on the browser's viewport size. There is no way for Apple to change those (nor would they want to)
There's no reason Safari couldn't just render a larger viewport. The media queries would be none the wiser.
 
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