UserAgent Spoofing

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When a browser contacts a web server, it identifies itself in the request with a UserAgent string. Website designers sometimes customize the layout of their sites for specific browsers by reading the UserAgent value and returning pages that look better than a one-size-fits-all layout would. This is often done to automatically return a simplified layout to mobile browsers. Unfortunately, sometimes these sites will only recognize certain browsers as mobile ones, and return pages designed for a desktop browser even though you are viewing on a mobile device. multiFEED lets you "spoof" your requests and pretend you are using a different browser than the one you really are. For instance, some sites only recognize a device as mobile if the request comes from an iPhone, so when viewing on a BlackBerry handheld you will always get the desktop version, even though the mobile one would look better. By pretending to be an iPhone multiFEED can get the optimized page layout instead of the default desktop one.

Also, some sites add functionality to pages when viewed in an unrecognized browser that impairs navigation or touch control. For instance, when viewed with QuickView the CBC news site makes it difficult to scroll the page vertically since it adds drag-and-drop functionality that competes with touch scrolling. The solution again is to pretend to be an iOS browser, since the drag-and-drop behavior is disabled on a browser the site recognizes as a mobile touch device. If scrolling or navigation in QuickView mode behaves strangely try changing the UserAgent string for that feed to an iOS or Android one.

At this time UserAgent spoofing only works in QuickView. If you view articles with the full BlackBerry browser it will always identify itself with its native UserAgent string.

note: UserAgent spoofing can also be useful when trying to view web content that is restricted to specific browsers. For instance, Google Calendar configuration displays different syncing options to iPhone browsers than to others, preventing the use of some features unless you are using an Apple device. Spoofing your requests as coming from an iPhone rather than your real device can allow you to access features you normally couldn't see. This use of UserAgent spoofing is of limited use with multiFEED however, since by their very nature news feeds are for general public consumption, so are unlikely to be restricted to specific devices. If you can download the feed XML you most likely can view the articles too.