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How to tell a phone your website is an app

I don't always get to work on mobile projects, but when I do they're websites pretending to be apps.

Default bootstrap example - zoomable etc.

So the question is: If your schedule is too tight to get a simple phonegap application through the approval process, how do you deliver a great mobile experience to users on launch day?

Responsive design will only get you so far. Which is to say not very far at all.

Take Bootstrap, use all the responsive features and you are left with a website that looks a bit different on a phone than it does on a computer or a tablet. But it's no app.

  • renders super small despite the initial-scale=1.0 meta tag
  • scrolls all over the place

First step to fixing things is disabling user scalability:

<meta
name="viewport"
content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no, maximum-scale=1.0"
/>

Default zooming is okay now and users can't pinch-to-zoom anymore. But they can still do plenty of strange side-scrolling and bouncing around. Something apps don't usually do.

Adding another meta tag fixes that problem.

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

Our only problem now is that pesky address bar on the top. Apps don't have that! This can be solved with a bit of simple javascript:

// When ready...
window.addEventListener("load", function () {
// Set a timeout...
setTimeout(function () {
// Hide the address bar!
window.scrollTo(0, 1);
}, 0);
});

Marvelous! You even get an extra 60 pixels of room to play with.

Just keep in mind that you must use those 60 pixels, otherwise the address bar won't hide because there's nothing to scroll up.

Final result - an app-like website

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Published on November 5th, 2012 in Address bar, HTML, IPhone, Meta element, Uncategorized, Website

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