Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Running your web application on iPhone as it's a native app

Configure your Web Application to work on iPhone/iPad/iPod as it is a Native app.

Start of with your web application, make sure it's bug free and ready to go live. Next step is to open the application on your iPhone and make sure the CSS is working the way you like it on the iPhone. Once every thing looks good on "iPhone safari", then you are ready to configure the web application to work on iPhone safari full screen.

We need to add few meta tags in applications head section of the page. So let's get this done. There are 6 steps.

Step 1: Suggest user to add this web application on the home screen. 

To run the web application in the full browser mode, we need to bookmark the application on the home screen. To do that we will use a excellent JQuery by Matteo Spinelli that will remind the user to bookmark the application on the home screen once they open your application on iPhone safari browser.  You can download the Code and how to set up from Add to Home Screen

Step 2: Web clip webpage icon

Once the user tap on the Add to home screen on iPhone, it will create an icon from the web application or you can upload a custom icon to use for this application. All you need is a 57px X 57px icon. Once you save it iPhone will add the round corners and glossy effect for you so you don't have to worry about it. 
There are few different Apple devices out there with different sizes for the icon, below is a list of them. Put them on your html page under the head section, that will save a custom icon on the home screen.

Normal (57 X 57 no retina display)
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="icon.png"/>

Normal iPad (72 X 72 no retina display)
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="icon72.png" sizes="72x72"/>

For iPhone (114 X 114 retina display)
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="icon114.png" sizes="114x114"/>

For iPad (144 X 144 retina display)
<link rel="apple-touch-icon" href="icon144.png" sizes="144x144"/>

Change the "href" with your own image name and location.
You can find out more information on custom icon.

Step 3: Specifying a start up image

I love it when user tap on the web app icon on the home screen and it shows them a splash image like it's not a web app but a native app. It will not show safari loading your app but your custom image. The meta tag you need to add for this is:

<link rel="apple-touch-startup-image" href="/splash.png">

Change the "href" to your image name and location.

Step 4: Hiding safari user interface components

Once the user tap the app icon on the home screen, you want it to open in standalone mode so it looks more like native application to achieve that add this meta tag:

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

If you want to check if app is in standalone mode then you can check it, with this read only property in java script. If you are in standalone mode then it will return true else false.


Step 5: Changing the status bar appearance

In order to change the status bar appearance you have to have apple-mobile-web-app-capable meta tag in your page's head section. The meta tag is as below:

<meta name="apple-mobile-web-app-status-bar-style" content="black" />

There are three option for content.
black - Content will show under the status bar
default - Content will show under the status bar
black-translucent - Content will show on the full screen, so the status bar will come over the content.

Step 6: Staying inside the safari standalone mode when clicking on links

One big issue that comes up in web application when running in standalone mode is that when user click on a link it will open up in safari not in the standalone mode or full screen mode. To over come this we will replace all the link tags <a/> with JQuery so that instead of doing the default task we change the location of the standalone screen. To do that, just add this JQuery on your page:

function (event) {

    if (window.navigator.standalone) {
        // Stop the default behavior that will open in all the links in safari. 

        // Change the location of the page to stay in "Standalone" mode.
        location.href = $(this).attr('href'); 


That's all you need to run your web application on iPhone as if it is a native app, easy as 1,2,3 rite?

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