Add a Website to Your iPhone Home Screen

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As you can see, adding a custom icon to the Home screen isn’t a limitation of iOS, but the process is clumsy. If Google were to implement this feature, it would need to be convoluted and pass off the final task to Safari. I think even the biggest Apple fan would have to admit that Cupertino is doing something wrong here. They need to allow any browser to create Home Screen icons. Their current practice is anti-competitive and also hurts their own customers.

Another glaring limitation is that users can’t just edit a Home Screen icon’s URL. This is another example of how Apple neglects the Web. I tried a few tricks to create a Home Screen icon for Chrome. I tried JavaScript bookmarklets and navigating to the URL in Airplane mode. Neither of these worked. Unfortunately, the only way to do this is by using the App Icons app, which limits users to three free icons. After that, you have to pay.

Add an Open in Chrome Bookmarklet to Safari

While researching this article, I did come across a great way to open Safari web pages in Chrome. This technique uses a bookmarklet, which is JavaScript executed from a bookmark. My hope was that one could hard code the URL and create a Home Screen icon with it. The problem is that, with both JavaScript and a hardcoded “googlechrome://” URL, once the address is invoked, the Share Sheet control is deactivated. But the bookmarklet technique is still useful for opening any web page in Chrome, within Safari. You may need to do this if a certain web page consistently crashes in Safari.

Launch Safari and open any web page. Tap on the Share Sheet button and then tap Add Bookmark. Tap on Save to create the Bookmark. Next, tap on the Bookmarks icon on the top left of Safari. Tap Edit on the bottom of the Bookmarks panel, then tap on the Bookmark you just created. Name the Bookmark “Open in Chrome”. Copy and paste the following code into the address field and then tap Done on the keyboard:

javascript:location.href=%22googlechrome%22+location.href.substring(4);

Tap Done at the bottom of the Bookmarks panel. You can now open any Safari window in Chrome, simply by tapping the Bookmarks button and then tapping the “Open in Chrome” Bookmark. It’s a great way to bypass Safari when a stock Apple app opens something in its default browser.

Apple Needs to Embrace the Open Web

As you can see, Apple’s business practices have clearly impacted the overall quality of iOS. I like Apple devices. I think they make the best devices. Unfortunately, users have to put up with some annoyances, mainly due to competition. iOS would only improve if they allowed third parties to access some of their proprietary APIs, such as the ability to create Home Screen icons. Your iPhone and iPad would also be much better if Apple allowed third-party web rendering engines, such as Google’s Chromium. WebKit is woefully inadequate and unstable. I use Chrome on my Mac and on my iOS devices. Unfortunately, Chrome for iOS is really just Safari with a different skin. I do prefer Chrome’s features and find it to be slightly more stable than Safari. If Google could port their Chromium engine to iOS, it would be even better.

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