Using Web Apps Instead of Unoptimized iPad Apps

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I understand that not all apps make it a priority to update for the iPad Pro; it’s not necessarily profitable for them to do so, and pumping an update out within a few months of the device’s announcement is tough. However, it’s now been nearly ten months since the release of the iPad Pro, and some of my most-used apps still aren’t on the ball.

TD and Facebook still aren’t updated to display properly on the iPad’s larger screen. Facebook Messenger works beautifully on the iPad Pro, but the main Facebook app does not. It’s ridiculous when you think about how large their budget must be.

When the iPad apps aren’t optimized for a larger screen

The inability to adjust to the iPad Pro’s screen class means that the text and interfaces are blown up, and even the menu bar with battery life and clock in these apps are larger. They just don’t fit in with the rest of my system, and I do find it a little jarring. However, there’s also a functional hindrance here: these apps also do not play nicely with Split View, which is a feature I’m using increasingly. This means that, on the 12.9-inch screen of my iPad Pro, I’m either staring at a giant version of the Facebook app, or nothing at all.

I’ve grown so used to the idea of loading services as apps that it took me a while to clue into this, but I don’t actually have to wait for these developers to update their apps (if they ever will). They have perfectly functional web apps that I can load in Safari — and even though I use these apps often, they aren’t things I need to keep loaded all the time. I check Facebook about twice a day for updates on things, and I turn off most notifications because I don’t want to be too tethered to the service. The TD and PayPal apps are only relevant when I receive or make payments, so having them as tabs and filling in the passwords with 1Password works very well for me.

The bonus to this is that Safari itself works in Split View, so I can now do a lot more multitasking than I could before. I can check Facebook as I leave Lightroom open in Split View (because Lightroom doesn’t upload in the background), or I can use half the screen to check my TD balance and compare it with my expenses in Money Pro. The former is a convenience and the latter saves me a lot of time and makes it much easier to compare finances.

When the iPad app just isn’t any good

I’ve also started doing this for apps that do work on the iPad Pro, but are just sub-par experiences compared to the original web apps. 500px is a prime example of this. I like the service and enjoy browsing it, but there are a number of things wrong with their mobile experience.

The Safari page is on the left, the iPad app is on the right
The Safari page is on the left, the iPad app is on the right

The layouts leave a ton of white space along the side, and visual glitches can duplicate photos, or open the wrong photo in the timeline. Then there’s the problem with the app logging me out every few days, and forcing me to sign back in before I can use it again.

I’ve dealt with these annoyances for months before deciding to just head back to Safari and use their web app. Switching back to has felt much, much better. I enjoy viewing photos there more, the whole experience is faster, and I can do so many more things in the web app than are available on mobile.

So this post is a bit of a PSA. There’s nothing we can do to prompt developers to update their apps to work properly for larger screen sizes (this also rings true of the iPhone 6S Plus). But many popular services also have fully functional web apps, which usually have even more power than their mobile counterparts. If you’ve been waiting a few months for updates that just don’t seem to be coming, switching to the web app might make things a lot easier on you for now.


My name is probably Thomas (yes, it is). I'll be able to help you figure out why Evernote isn't syncing, or recommend your favourite new RSS reader to you. That's partly because I am enamoured with the iOS ecosystem and hardware, but mostly because I'm Canadian.

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2 thoughts on “Using Web Apps Instead of Unoptimized iPad Apps”

  1. The most frustrating part of this is trying to explain to the technical support team of big corporate apps (especially publications, especially the NY Times) what’s wrong with the blown up 9.7″ version and what needs to be changed. Simply saying “there’s a bigger version of the iPad and this isn’t optimized for its resolution” doesn’t seem to work. I’ve resorted to asking for split screen support instead, since people seem to understand that better and implementing this requires support for the 12.9″ resolution as far as I can tell.

    Have you or your readers had any luck talking to large corporate technical support teams that aren’t iOS-centric about this?

  2. Congratulations, you’ve discovered what Windows tablet users have been doing for years (but with full browsers rather than a scaled down mobile one).

    IPad “pro” is about 4 years behind.

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