The minimal-ui meta tag in iOS 7.1

iOS7 brings us yet another meta tag to use – minimal-ui. You might be able to guess what it does – it hides the majority of the browser chrome when you load, much like when you scroll:

With and without minimal-ui

With and without minimal-ui

Try it out. It’s a welcome improvement, especially after Safari’s disastrous changes with the release of iOS7, and feels like a tacit confession that shutting off the ability to hide the navigation bar (as you could in iOS6) was a mistake.

It also fixes what is easily my least favourite part of the iOS7 Safari UI: stealing tap events that happen at the bottom of the screen to show the bottom navigation bar:

 

With minimal-ui, the only way to restore the bottom navigation bar is to tap the address bar at the top.

But…

This feels a little weird. Users are now going to have different UIs depending on what meta tag the site does or doesn’t have. If users can’t rely on tapping the bottom of the screen to bring up the bottom bar, why have that functionality at all? Surely it would be better to be consistent.

It’s also curious that Apple went to these lengths to create a new meta tag while still not supporting the JavaScript Fullscreen API. Many of the people looking to hide the browser UI are making interactive experiences like games, and being able to go full screen would be even better than minimal-ui – as well as being an actual cross-platform solution.

For now we’ll have to throw the Fullscreen API on the pile marked “Please, Apple. Please“, along with WebRTC and WebGL. But the minimal-ui meta tag is at least a start.

  • Jose Enrique Bolanos

    Great post, didn’t know about this tag. Thanks.

  • Martijn De Geus

    For some reason I cannot get minimal-ui to work with ios7.1.2