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

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.

google docs ipados
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.

Top Rated Comments

Shawn Parr Avatar
23 months ago
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.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
oneMadRssn Avatar
23 months ago
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:


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?

Attachment Image
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
newyorksole Avatar
23 months ago
Apple really made major leaps and bounds this year so far.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
petvas Avatar
23 months ago
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:


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.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pakaku Avatar
23 months ago
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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
23 months ago
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:


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.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

imac pro featured black

Apple Confirms iMac Pro Will Be Discontinued When Supplies Run Out, Recommends 27-Inch iMac

Saturday March 6, 2021 7:33 am PST by
Apple on late Friday evening added a "while supplies last" notice to its iMac Pro product page worldwide, and removed all upgrade options for the computer, leaving only the standard configuration available to order for now. We've since confirmed with Apple that when supplies run out, the iMac Pro will no longer be available whatsoever. Apple says the latest 27-inch iMac introduced in August...
bloodoxygenapplewatch

Apple Watch Series 7 to Gain Breakthrough New Health Feature

Friday March 5, 2021 5:34 am PST by
Apple is reportedly planning to bring a new, first-of-its-kind health technology to the Apple Watch Series 7, in what could be a breakthrough for managing conditions such as diabetes more easily. According to a recent report from ETNews, the Apple Watch Series 7 will feature blood glucose monitoring via a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood...
Top Stories 48

Top Stories: iPhone 13 Leaks, OLED iPads and Macs, New AirTags Evidence

Saturday March 6, 2021 6:00 am PST by
iPhone rumors are heating up, with noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo this week releasing a wide-ranging report outlining his expectations for the iPhone lineup over the next three years. This week also saw rumors about OLED displays potentially coming to iPad and Mac starting next year, increasing signs of AirTags functionality in iOS 14.5 betas, and more, so check out all of the details below! i...
apple products refurbished store banner

Class Action Lawsuit Over Apple Providing Refurbished Replacement Devices Proceeding to Trial in August

Friday March 5, 2021 9:53 am PST by
Initially filed in 2016, a class action lawsuit that accuses Apple of violating the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and other U.S. laws by providing customers with refurbished replacement devices is set to proceed to trial August 16, according to a notice this week from law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP. Apple's repair terms and conditions state that,...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro

OLED 10.9-Inch iPad Rumored for Early 2022, 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 16-Inch MacBook Pro Could Follow

Thursday March 4, 2021 8:37 pm PST by
Earlier today, DigiTimes shared a preview of an upcoming report claiming that Apple is working on both iPad and Mac notebook models with OLED displays that could launch starting in 2022. The full report from DigiTimes is now available, and it includes several new alleged details about Apple's plans. According to the report, the first of these devices to adopt an OLED display is likely to be...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature2

iPhone 13 Rumor Recap: Smaller Notch, Larger Batteries, 120Hz for Pro Models, Improved 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and More

Friday March 5, 2021 8:20 am PST by
While we are likely at least six months away from Apple unveiling the so-called iPhone 13 lineup, rumors about the devices are starting to accumulate, so we've put together this recap of everything that is expected so far. The upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will consist of the same four models and the same screen sizes as the iPhone 12 lineup, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo,...
imac pro while supplies last

iMac Pro No Longer Custom Configurable, Available 'While Supplies Last'

Friday March 5, 2021 10:14 pm PST by
Apple appears to be on the verge of discontinuing the iMac Pro, with the store page for the high-end all-in-one Mac including a "While supplies last" tagline and only the base model with no custom configurations available for purchase. The iMac Pro launched in December 2017, and while there have been a few tweaks to the available configurations over the years, it has received no substantial...
hlh030121feafutureoffitness012 1614286673

A Look Inside Apple's 23,000 Square-Foot Fitness+ Studio

Friday March 5, 2021 10:59 am PST by
Apple Fitness+, the latest service to join the Apple family, integrates tightly with the Apple Watch to offer a comprehensive and growing selection of workout and exercise videos made by a team of professional trainers. Apple Fitness+ Studio (via Men's Health) Apple curates and records all of the videos at a location in Santa Monica, California, and each video features a similar background...
maxresdefault

What's on Your iPhone Home Screen?

Thursday March 4, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Over on our YouTube channel, MacRumors videographer Dan has a new video up where he shares his Home Screen, wallpaper, and all of his current favorite widgets. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Check out Dan's video to see his setup, and then comment below and show us your own Home Screens. It's always fun to see other peoples' Home Screens, and with widgets and...
microsoft edge vertical tabs

Microsoft Edge 89 Brings Vertical Tabs and New History View

Friday March 5, 2021 4:06 am PST by
Microsoft has officially released version 89 of its popular Chromium-based Edge browser, bringing its long-trialed vertical tabs feature to Mac for the first time. Vertical tabs are intended to make more efficient use of screen space, and should prove a welcome addition for users browsing on 16:9 ratio displays in particular. Users can click vertical tabs to switch between them and...