October 06, 2007

How to See an iPod Touch Your Web site

Not too long ago, in June, we had the novelty of seeing Apple's pre-release iPhones surfing the Web, either from early adopters, Apple employees with early access, or simply in testing. Now, as Apple has also introduced an iPod capable of browsing the Web, in the iPod Touch, I thought it would be interesting to see how the iPod identifies itself to Web logs.

While at the Apple Store yesterday to pick up my MacBook Pro, I set upon a displayed iPod Touch, fired up Safari, and headed to louisgray.com. As I would expect, the site loaded in full, though it was drastically skinnied down to fit the iPod Touch's miniature screen.

Logging on to SiteMeter, you can see this visit as having come through AT&T WorldNet Services. Oddly, it registers as being from Fresno, California (though I tested from San Jose). All else is familiar to most Web site owners. The Operating System is displayed as MacOSX, and the Browser is Safari 1.3 - even though all Macs ship with Safari 2, and Safari 3 beta has been out for some time.

In fact, in June, the iPhone reported a later version of Safari:
Browser Safari 2.0 Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en)

Unique to the iPod Touch, however is the machine's identification, of (iPod; U; CPU like Mac OS X; en). The iPhone, in contrast, identifies itself as the iPhone, simply enough.

As with most hardware manufacturers, the browser detail doesn't identify the model number or revision, by any means. When an Intel-based Mac visits my site, I just know it's an Intel-based Mac, not whether it's a tower or a laptop (unless I geek out into screen resolution detail), and if a Dell visits my site, I can't distinguish it from an HP or a Gateway computer. In that same vein, the iPod Touch doesn't say it's an iPod Touch, just an iPod, and going forward, the iPhone will likely continue saying its an iPhone, even if Apple went nuts and released new models, like an iPhone Nano or an iPhone Extreme, as is occasionally rumored.

So, if you want to know if an iPod Touch has been browsing your Web site, look for the browser detail and the keyword iPod. With the Web reaching well beyond computers, to handhelds, TVs, and mobile phones, we can expect to write once, publish anywhere, and hope the Web standards will display well for all.