The iPad has been a roaring success. There are no two ways about it. It is an awesome device and the built-in web browser is the best in it’s class.
Even though most websites work perfectly fine on an iPad, a lot of web publishers have optimized versions of their websites available for just the iPad. Often, the iPad optimized versions are designed with a touch interface in mind but sometimes the desingers get a little more creative and take the single tasking focussed of the iPad and design an interface that is not only a delight to use on the iPad, but would also serve as a better interface for the desktop version.
Take, for example, the iPad version of Gmail. The regular desktop browser based Gmail is fun to use and, IMHO, has one of the best interfaces for email on the web. But, the iPad optimized version of Gmail takes GTD to a whole new level.
If you want to use the iPad version of Gmail on your desktop computer, all you’ve got to do is fool Gmail into thinking that you’re actually visiting the site from your iPad instead of your desktop browser.
Launch Firefox and Install the User Agent Switcher extension from the add-ons directory.
Now, go to the Tools menu and edit the user agent settings from the Tools->Default User Agents->Edit User agents menu. You can add a new user agent for the iPad by clicking the New button and entering the following values in the window that pops up.
The most important value that you need to add is the “User Agent” one. Set it to the following:
Mozilla/5.0(iPad; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B314 Safari/531.21.10
Just copy the rest of the settings from the image above and you’re all set. Set firefox to use the new iPad setting as the default user agent and browse over the Gmail and you’ll be presented with the iPad optimized version of Gmail. You can also try it with any other site that has an iPad optimized version.
In theory, this trick will work with any browser but since I’ve used a Firefox extension to switch the user agent, I’m tied to the Firefox browser. If you can change the user agent in your favorite browser, you can use this trick on that browser too.