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Evidently, there's a way for web app designers to add a meta tag to their web pages so that on the iPhone,

...if you use the Add to Home Screen feature, it will launch as its own standalone app, with no Safari browser chrome. It’s a way to make site-specific browsers for the iPhone. They run as their own processes, outside MobileSafari.

I've tried adding several web apps to my home screen in this way, but when I launch them Safari still seems to have all the normal chrome:

screen shot of non-full-screen Safari

I was assuming that the URL and search bar at the top would disappear, as would the navigation bar at the bottom. If that's not what full-screen Safari means, then what is it?

Next, I suppose it's possible that the sites I've tried don't use the tag; here are some of the mobile sites I've tried:

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The reason that the sites you mention don't take advantage of the feature is because it doesn't work quite like you'd expect.

It's true that that app will open in full-screen if you set the metatag, but any clicks that request a new page will launch Safari to display them.

So in order to stay within the web-app, all your links need to open via ajax. Too much effort for most developers, I think - CNN, Fox News and Stack Exchange are all based around a 1 page = 1 URL = 1 new request and to change this behaviour would require massive re-architecting.

Here's a demo of a site that will launch in fullscreen mode from the home screen:

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That explains that. It seems then in order for more sites to take advantage of Safari mobile's full-screen capability Apple would probably need to find a way to re-architect on the Safari side so that new page requests opened in the same window sans chrome. Until then, I suppose that's what non-Safari browser apps with full-screen capability were made for. –  Adam Wuerl Aug 2 '11 at 11:19
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Yes, but the reason Apple won't do that is because then there would be no browser chrome for navigation. So in a multi-page site there wouldn't be any way to go back. So they leave it up to the developer to handle those issues rather than possibly deliver a poor UX to the user. –  Ciaran Aug 2 '11 at 11:43
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