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.


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.

Related Roundups: iOS 13, iPadOS

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
13 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)
Avatar
13 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?

Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 months ago
Apple really made major leaps and bounds this year so far.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
13 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)
Avatar
13 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)
Avatar
13 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

Apple Doubles the Price of RAM Upgrade on Entry-Level 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Saturday May 30, 2020 4:00 pm PDT by
Apple today doubled the price for upgrading the RAM on the entry-level 13-inch MacBook Pro, with customers in the United States now being charged $200 to move from 8GB to 16GB compared to the previous $100 upgrade price. Similar increases are seen in other countries, such as moving from €125 to €250 in Germany and from £100 to £200 in the United Kingdom. Current pricing on RAM upgrade for ...

Tim Cook Addresses George Floyd's Death and Ensuing Protests and Riots as Apple Temporarily Closes Some U.S. Stores

Sunday May 31, 2020 8:04 pm PDT by
Amid unrest in numerous U.S. cities following last week's killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Apple CEO Tim Cook has shared an internal memo with employees (via Bloomberg) addressing the pain that many are feeling and urging others to commit "to creating a better, more just world for everyone." Cook also announced that Apple is making donations to several groups challenging...

Apple's First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display Will Become 'Obsolete' in 30 Days

Monday June 1, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
If you are still hanging on to a Mid 2012 model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display, and require a new battery or other repairs, be sure to book an appointment with a service provider as soon as possible. In an internal memo today, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that this particular MacBook Pro model will be marked as "obsolete" worldwide on June 30, 2020, just over...

Top Stories: macOS 10.15.5, New Powerbeats Pro Colors, iPhone 12 and 13 Rumors, and More

Saturday May 30, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting mix of news and rumors on the Apple front, led by the release of macOS 10.15.5, which brings a new battery health feature to newer Mac notebooks, while we also saw the official announcement of new colors for the Powerbeats Pro earphones. On the rumor front, we heard a few tidbits about not just this year's iPhone 12 but also next year's iPhone, while we saw...

8 Mac Tips and Tricks You Might Not Know

Friday May 29, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
There are tons of hidden features and shortcuts for Macs that Apple has built into macOS over the years, ranging from shortcuts to keyboard commands to other little hacks to make Mac usage just a bit simpler. In our latest YouTube video, we highlighted several of these tips and tricks, and some of them might just be new to you. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Tr...

6.1-inch 'iPhone 12' Production to Begin in July Ahead of Other 2020 Models

Monday June 1, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Volume production of Apple's forthcoming 6.1-inch "iPhone 12" models will start in July-August ahead of the rest of the company's flagship iPhone lineup this year, according to a new report by DigiTimes. Apple is widely rumored to be launching four new ‌iPhone‌ models in the usual September or October timeframe, although supply constraints and delays in production ramp-up could cause a...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1 With Fixes for Recent 'unc0ver' Jailbreak Vulnerability

Monday June 1, 2020 9:58 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1, minor updates that come a little over a week after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.5, major updates that brought the Exposure Notification API, FaceTime changes, mask-related unlocking updates and more. The iOS and iPadOS 13.5.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings >...

Apple Introducing New Internal USB-C Diagnostic Tool

Sunday May 31, 2020 7:26 pm PDT by
Apple is introducing a new internal USB-C Diagnostic Tool as a successor to its existing Serial Number Reader, which can be used to both collect a device's serial number directly from its logic board and test power on a device itself. Image via Giulio Zompetti With only a Lightning version previously available, images have surfaced of a new USB-C Diagnostic Tool (UDT) that appears to be known ...

Powerbeats Pro Debut in Four New Colors: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue

Friday May 29, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Following a couple of leaks in recent weeks, Beats today is officially announcing four new colors for its Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue. The new earphones will go on sale June 9 and sell for the same $249.95 price as the existing color options. Aside from the colors, the new Powerbeats Pro models are otherwise identical to the...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 Supplemental Update With Security Fix

Monday June 1, 2020 10:56 am PDT by
Apple today released a supplemental update for macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. The supplemental update comes a week after the release of the macOS Catalina 10.15.5 update. ‌macOS Catalina‌ 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System...