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Our MacNews site is powered by WordPress. While the experience is good on a destop browser and pretty good on the iPad it wasn't really optimized for the iPad. You could always use our iPhone/iPod touch App, but that App wasn't designed for iPad either. With an update to our WP Touch Pro plug-in MacNews is now a bonified "web app" too. 


What's the difference between a web app and a native iOS app?

For those of us old enough to remember when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007 he touted "web apps" as a way to get custom Apps onto the iPhone. That didn't go over too well with developers that wanted to access native functions (APIs) of the device. So Apple opened the doors to native App development for those wishing to create Apps using Objective C and distribute them on the App Store. Hundreds of thousands of Apps later, that was definitely the right thing to do. However, the fact of the matter is that web apps are still useful when the task isn't as complex as some native apps. With a web app you now can get the "feel" of a native App but without the need to actually write a program using Objective C. Web Apps are built with HTML, Javascript, CSS, and JQuery Mobile. These open standards not only mean that anyone can develop an App (using tools like Adobe Dreamweaver CS 5.5) it also means that the App doesn't have to go through Apple's (or anyone else's) App Store approval process. The other advantage of a web App over a native App is that the developer only has to write one App that will work across all platforms including, dare I say it, your desktop/laptop too.


What's the difference between a web app and just adding a website to your home screen?

In iOS you can go to any website in Safari and add an icon (bookmark) to that site right on your homescreen. This will give you a one tap access to load that site in Mobile Safari. That's great, but all it really is is a button that accesses a bookmarked URL. With a web App you navigate to the site first in Mobile Safari as you always did, but when you save that site to your homescreen and launch it from that icon it launches like a regular App and you don't see the Safari interface around it. It functions like a true App with the ability to remember things like where you left off in the App and you get the same kind of animations during navigation that you would in a native App. Also the Web App can take advantage of things like a different layout for horizontal viewing vs. vertical viewing and even some of the hardware (ie. camera, acelerometer, etc. just like a native App.


Try it for yourself

Load MacNews on your iPad (or iPhone/iPod touch) in mobile Safari. Then tap the share icon to Add it to your Home Screen. At this point you can also name the App whatever you like ie. "MacNews". Now go to your Home Screen and launch it like you would any other App.  I am still tweaking the performance, but otherwise it should be good to go. Keep in mind if you don't like it you can always access the site via mobile Safari as you always did. In Mobile Safari just scroll down to the bottom of the page and turn off the mobile theme and you'll be back to the regular site.

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