iPad Site Testing With Safari
So, before you launch your website intended for viewing on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, you surely need to test it by simulating an HTTP query from an iDevice. This article explains how to use Apple’s Safari for this purpose.
In the majority of available tutorials it’s assumed that all developers have iPhones at their disposal and can test their websites with their help. I, in my turn, won’t make that assumption. You can easily use Safari in order to do the testing – you will only need to change the user agent this Web browser identifies itself with.
This is how things work when you are surfing the Web… Regardless of the type of the device you use to go online, the algorithm is always the same: the browser sends a chunk of text that the web server uses to recognize what browser exactly is being used. With iDevices the whole thing is even more complicated this chunk of text also contains the characters letting the server recognize the type of device being used: iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone. What’s so great about Safari Web browser is the fact that it allows modifying the text being sent out so that the server returns the page intended for the device chosen by the developer. Thus, you get the page displayed on the screen of your computer exactly the way it would look on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Yes, this is exactly this simple.
So let’s get going! If Safari still isn’t there on your computer, why don’t you download it and install it now.
The installation process is over? Now launch the browser and go straight to Advanced Preferences pane. It can be found in the dropdown menu next to the image depicting a little cog in the top right corner of the browser window.
Choose Advanced in the appearing popup window it’s the last icon to the right there. Check the empty box next to “Show Develop menu in menu bar” and close the window. The latter is done with the help of the X button in the top right corner surprisingly, there is no Close or OK button in that popup. So, what you’ve done will enable the Develop menu.
Now click the icon depicting a page located right next to that cog button, choose Develop > User Agent > iPad/iPod Touch/iPhone (whichever you want to emulate). If you are using Safari 5.0, that would be it. If the version of your browser is an older one, you will also need to specify the code for the iDevice that you are emulating.
Hitting OK will reload the page, showing it almost as if you were viewing it on an iDevice. Why almost? Well, it will still show Java and Flash plugins as both Java and Flash are enabled in Safari by default. Therefore, you will also need to disable both by going to Security Preferences area in your browser it is located right next to the Advanced Preferences. As soon as you are there, uncheck the corresponding boxes and close the window.
This is it. Now you can get down to testing as the page appears in Safari exactly the way it would appear on the iDevice specified by you in the previous step.
Alternative way: using iPad Peek
You can also use iPad Peek developed by Pavol Rusnak as an alternative. However, you should keep it in mind that if you run this online emulator in a browser different from Safari, certain issues might appear. I.e. some pages that look alright in the emulator, will not look quite the same on the actual iDevice. You can easily check this fact out by running iPad Peek in MS Internet Explorer and in Apple’s Safari. In fact, even when using this emulator in your Safari browser, you might need to change the user agent string and disable Java and Flash, exactly the way it is described above. The main difference would be that iPad Peek will actually add the look of the iPad tablet itself the rest of the stuff is minor.
Second alternative way: using iPhone Simulator by Apple
If you have really serious plans concerning the site that you want to develop for iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch, you might wanna join Apple’s Developer Connection. This is not free though: you will have to pay $99 a year but in exchange you will receive the latest version of Apple’s Software Developer’s Kit (also known as SDK), including their genuine iPhone Simulator, with iPad emulation supported. This tool is definitely the most qualitative option for testing your new website or app you won’t even have to go online if you want to use it.
Hope you will find this advice helpful! Have fun!
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