6 Browsers to Spoof Your User Agent on iOS to Avoid Mobile Sites

WordPress.com iPad

A special iPad interface for WordPress.com blogs (Credit: Automattic)

Do you browse the internet on your iOS device? As you know, Safari on iOS is capable of displaying full webpages, exactly how they display on the desktop (Flash support aside).

Ever come across a site that serves you a different version of their website specifically designed for your device? Sometimes, this is great, but other times, the special mobile version is simply awful and even worse, sometimes sites serve the same stripped down mobile site to iOS as they do to those old smartphones that didn’t support full HTML.

Some sites might be nice enough to include a link to the full site in the footer, but other sites are not. That’s not really want Steve Jobs called “the full internet” during the iPhone launch.

Even though the iPad is much larger than the iPhone and iPod touch, it still identifies itself in the browser user agent as a mobile device, so it often still gets served a mobile site.

In order to bypass these awful mobile sites, your device needs to pretend to be another browser/device by spoofing the user agent. Safari doesn’t have this feature (and I doubt it ever will), but a few alternative browsers available on the App Store do.

Sleipnir Mobile (Free)

Sleipnir Mobile is a free alternative browser with features like page grouping and user agent spoofing. It has many preset user agents and has an option to write your own.

Sleipnir Mobile User Agent

Sleipnir Mobile User Agent

Sleipnir Mobile is a free universal app.

Terra (Free)

Terra is a free web browser with features like swipe gestures, desktop style tabs, and user agent spoofing. It provides 4 preset user agents.

Terra User Agent

Terra User Agent

Terra is a free universal app.

LastPass Tab (Free – iPad only)

LastPass is a popular online password manager we mentioned before. They made a browser for the iPad to make it easier to login to websites, however it is not limited to LastPass users. It works just like a normal browser even without logging in.

LastPass Tab is for iPad only.

Atomic Web Browser ($0.99)

Atomic Web Browser is one of the most popular alternate browsers available on the App Store. Its numerous features include real desktop style tabs, download manager with Dropbox support, multitouch gestures, color themes, ad-blocker, and of course user agent spoofing.

Atomic iPad

"Identify Browser As" options can be accessed from the tools button of Atomic Web Browser

Atomic has 9 different user agents to choose from, although two of them would be duplicates

User Agent Atomic Browser

Atomic Web Browser is being identified as Firefox running on Mac OS X

Atomic Web Browser is a universal app and costs $0.99.

Atomic Web Browser Lite is available for free, however does not include user agent spoofing.

iCab Mobile ($1.99)

iCab Mobile is probably the most feature packed browser I could find and contains even more features than Atomic, such as support for modules (similar to extensions) and a Safari like interface.

iCab Mobile is a universal app and costs $1.99.

SkyFire ($2.99 for iPhone, $4.99 for iPad)

SkyFire not only supports user agent switching but also supports Flash (mainly for videos), something Apple does not and will not include into Safari.

SkyFire user agent switching is currently limited to desktop mode or iPad/iPhone mode, which should be sufficient for most people.

SkyFire Switch Mode

Switch between desktop or iPhone/iPad (Credit: SkyFire Labs, Inc.)

SkyFire costs $2.99 for the iPhone/iPod touch version and $4.99 for the iPad version.

All of the browsers mentioned above have a rating of 17+ because of the way Apple rates apps. All web browser type apps have this rating.

Due to Apple’s restrictions, none of these browsers can be set as the default browser, which will always be Safari. Whenever you open a link from other apps, it will always open the page using Safari.

What is your favorite browser for iOS? Have another browser that supports user agent spoofing? Share with us in the comments.

Liked this article? Share it with your friends.

Brian is the co-founder of TechAirlines. He is a developer currently focusing on mobile and web development. He is currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University, majoring in Computer Science.

  • http://personalcomputersos.co.cc/wordpress/ Bob Zenith

    Personally, I like Terra, LastPass Tab, and Opera Mini. I’ve found Opera Mini to be extremely fast at loading sites; but I use LastPass Tab whenever I need to login somewhere. And then I use Terra at times in between.

    And, let’s not forget about SkyFire whenever you need to view flash videos.

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      Hi there,

      How did I forget about those. I’ll be adding LastPass Tab and SkyFire to the list. :) Opera Mini is awesome too.


  • Dinesh

    Need experts’ advice…
    I have to watch my online lectures (flash) and the web-site is only restricted to IE. Is There any browser which can support flash and at the same time spoof user agent?

    • http://www.techairlines.com Brian Yang

      I’ll try to look for one that supports Flash and more user agents besides Desktop/Mobile.

      At this time, I would recommend contacting the website owner. There is no legitimate reason for any website to force users to use IE.

  • http://www.technipages.com Mitch Bartlett

    Those are great simple options. I worked all weekend trying to find out a way to have the User Agent for Safari. I figured out a way. It can be done by hacking a backup file. I wrote up a tutorial: http://www.technipages.com/ios-change-the-user-agent-in-safari.html

    • http://www.creastery.com Creastery

      Hello Mitch,
      Thank you for sharing with us a method to change the User Agent for Safari!
      Amazed by how much time you devoted in figuring that out too!
      Good job and thanks for visiting TechAirlines :)

  • Pingback: Browse Smarter with User Agent Switching - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education()

  • JohnDoey

    The only thing I disagree with here is when are the mobile sites great? I’ve never seen one that didn’t suck. I hope the guy who coded WPTouch gets cancer.

  • rraallvv

    wow, it seems that there is no way to see a full flash site on the iPad yet

    • http://www.techairlines.com/ Brian Yang

      Nope, there isn’t and likely never will be. Browsers for the iPad that support Flash are only for Flash videos.

      However, most modern sites should be properly designed without Flash. If a site is made in 100% Flash, then there is a problem with the site. Flash sites are pretty but they’re not as user friendly as a normal HTML site.

  • Rob

    what about Swifter for flash?

  • JaymeH1994

    I just tried the Puffin browser. It lets you switch to desktop mode and the paid version supports flash video. It allowed me to start watching an episode on Hulu, but the audio and video was out of sync. It’s a good start though.