November 29, 2012 — By Dale Mugford

Web App Mode in WPtouch Pro

WPtouch Pro offers a unique capability that both Responsive Design and competing mobile products for WordPress don’t— Web App Mode, a feature that allows customers to offer their WPtouch Pro-powered websites as a standalone web application that can be installed on all iOS devices- iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

 

Sometimes we’re asked by customers and users what we mean by WPtouch Pro’s unique “Web App Mode” capability. This post will explain what it is and how to use it.

WPtouch Pro’s Web App Mode: Definition

 Web App Mode in WPtouch Pro does the following:
  • Alerts visitors that they can save this website as a web app on their home screen, and shows them how to do it
  • Saves the website to the home screen
  • When the visitor taps on the app icon on their home screen, it opens the web app, showing them a loading screen while it loads up the web app
  • Once loaded, the visitor browses the website in full screen mode, outside of mobile Safari, just like a full screen, native app
 Web App Mode in WPtouch Pro offers the ability to customize:
  • The message shown to visitors about Web App Mode and the number of days before the message is shown again
  • Home screen icons
  • Loading screens for all iOS devices (iPhones, iPod touches and iPads)
  • Whether visitors enjoy persistence (a feature where the web app remembers the last web page viewed when the visitor left the web app and loads it instead of your home page)
  • Whether Web App Mode loads post and page content with AJAX

WPtouch Pro’s Web App Mode: Setup is Minutes Away!

In WPtouch Pro, enabling Web App Mode is one checkbox away. Simply turn it on, and it’s available to visitors! Next you can easily upload and apply your home screen icons and loading screens. Configure any of the other settings available if you choose, and you’re good to go! Customers looking for a detailed guide on using WPtouch Pro’s Web App Mode can access the guide in our documentation area here (you must be a customer and logged in to view).

BraveNewCode.com in Web App Mode

Background: A Brief History of Web Apps on iOS

Back in 2008 when iOS went to version 2.0, Apple had announced that it was opening up its App Store, a place where developers could sell apps made for the platform. It had released its Development Kit and said to developers excited to get in on the popularity of iOS, “have at it”.

Before that, Apple had consistently advocated that developers should be building web-based apps built for Safari, it’s mobile web browser. Leveraging the latest HTML, CSS and JavaScript technologies, Apple insisted that developers could do everything they wanted via the web. Apple created The iOS Safari Development Center, a compendium of documentation on how developers could set out to create native-feeling and native-looking web-based applications.

Eventually, Apple saw a new market opportunity (or at least, revealed its interest in it) and decided to open an App Store. On July 10, 2008, the App Store was released for iTunes and iOS devices. Many companies who had created web apps were eager to ship native versions of their apps. Apple was eager for them as well— taking 30% of all sales Developers made selling their apps in Apple’s App Store.

Web Apps are Dead!

Apple created a listing of web apps built for iOS on its website. Apple’s attention and interest in web apps for iOS waned in the shadow of the App Store, and in spite of the 30% cut developers had to fork over to Apple to sell in the Store, they flocked in droves to get apps built for users that they could charge for— a strong contrast to web apps which, for the most part, were all entirely free iOS-tailored web-extensions of popular games, websites and tools.

Long Live Web Apps!

But web apps for iOS just wouldn’t die— in fact, many website publishers found that the restrictions imposed by Apple’s App Store prevented them from offering what they wanted to offer to users, and they continued developing their web apps. Apple still maintains its listing of web apps for iOS, and indeed there are several included which are built using WPtouch Pro.

There are some distinct advantages to offering a web app for iOS visitors, and with the ability to do so built into WPtouch Pro in such an easy-to-use, easy-to-setup manner, there’s no reason not to! Many customers use its web app capabilities alongside their native app offerings, giving choice to visitors on how they’d prefer to consume content.

Why Offer a Web App for Your WordPress Website?

Whether you’re a hobbist site like cigardojo.com, or a news-related blog like idownloadblog.com, iOS visitors will benefit from (and enjoy!) that you’re providing them with an elegant web app that they can install and use to consume your content whenever they please.

It’s also considerably less expensive than offering a native app for the iOS App Store. Yet if you’re working on/or have a native app, using WPtouch Pro’s Web App Mode feature is a great way to show your iOS visitors that you care about their experience of your content on their iOS mobile devices, and can be a great way to invite them towards using your native app.

Our customers tell us frequently that their visitors have provided them with great feedback about their WPtouch Pro powered web app, and love that it’s so easy-to-use and easy-to-setup:

“The look and feel of the “mobilized version” of our site is what we like the most about WPtouch Pro… We also love the iPad version of our website; it’s great having two distinct mobile versions of the site, one for phones and one for tablets.”
~cigardojo.com

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