How to browse the web emulating other devices with the Nokia N900
The Nokia N900 gives you the best and most complete web browsing experience, thanks to the great browser microB and its Shockwave Flash plugin support (absent in the other mobile browsers) that allows access to virtually any content the web has to offer.
Unfortunately more and more sites are able to recognize this amazing tablet phone as a mobile device, and they address it to mobile web pages: these pages have the advantage of being very light and quick to be loaded, but they can’t offer an advanced web browsing experience, limitating microB’s possibilities. Sometimes there’s a way for obtaining the complete web page from the mobile one, but you’ll always have to load the mobile site first.
These sites are able to recognize the browsing device thanks to the so-called “user agent”, a string (sent by the browser itself) containing many datas about your Operative System and web browser. By changing this string you can trick the sites, making them recognize you as a desktop PC, so that they will send you the complete web pages and not the mobile ones!
But there are also many other possibilities: by using very popular devices’ user agents, such as iPhone’s or iPad’s, you can obtain specific devices dedicated web pages (e.g. iPhone or iPad dedicated pages), extending microB’s functionalities.
This is possible thanks to HideUserAgent (or Hide User Agent), a great application that unfortunately is still blocked in Maemo.org Extras-Testing repository (for reasons I’ll explain at the end of this article). You can download it from its testing page (this is the direct download link) or from this external link (if the previous links don’t work). HideUserAgent is compatible even with the last official Maemo 5 firmware release (actually PR 1.2).
You’ll have to manually copy the downloaded deb file to your device, then open it from the default File Manager.
Once installed, a new applet will be added to the Settings panel, among Connectivity applets. By clicking on the Hide User Agent applet, you’ll open a window where you can properly set your modified user agent.
Remove -> This button simply remove every customization done to your user agent: you will set the default one and you will return to the default browsing experience.
- User Agent -> This is where you can set the user agent. You can find many agents on the web, these are some useful and fully-working examples:
iPhone (old firmware):
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en) AppleWebKit/420+ (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.0 Mobile/1A543 Safari/419.3
iPhone OS 3.0 (new firmware, if you want to emulate an iPhone use this one):
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_0 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/528.18 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile/7A341 Safari/528.16
Mozilla/5.0(iPad; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B314 Safari/531.21.10
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 5.1; Trident/4.0; GTB6.4; .NET CLR 1.0.3705; .NET CLR 1.1.4322; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.0.4506.2152; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; Media Center PC 4.0; FDM)
- Set -> Once you have customized your user agent using the User Agent button, click on Set to activate the customization. From now on you’ll navigate emulating the device you have previously chosen.
As you can see from the following image, once you have set a customized user agent (in my example the iPhone’s), you will be redirected to that device’s dedicated pages (in my example iPhone’s dedicated pages of course!).
By using your Desktop PC’s user agent (you can discover it on this page) or any Desktop PC’s agent, no site will try to redirect your Nokia N900 to a mobile page (that appears ridiculous on the WVGA 800×480 screen ;)), while you can emulate every actual device by using its personal user agent.
This procedure has many benefits, but remember that you will not be recognized as a Nokia N900 by the web pages you browse, until you remove the customization by clicking on Remove: while the customization is set up, you won’t be able to use N900’s dedicated pages, like OVI online services (that’s why HideUserAgent has been rejected from Maemo.org repository).