iPhone web development testing and the futility of emulators

I tried iPhone emulators, I tried iPhone simulators, I searched and iSearched until iHit myself on the head with an iBook, ran into an iWall and committed suicide with an iNoose.

Then, just as all seemed lost, it was pointed out to me that Safari has it’s own developer tools which can easily emulate an iPhone, IE6 or a small privet hedge simply by selecting your preferred User Agent.

Follow these instructions to turn on the Develop menu in Safari and enjoy. Or tear up. It’s up to you.

Or to put it another and blatantly lifted from this Stack Overflow solution:

In Safari 4+ (Windows or Mac) enable the “Develop” menu under Preferences > Advanced > Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar.

With this enabled, go to Develop > User Agent, and change the user-agent string to Mobile Safari 1.1.3 – iPhone. Resize the window to the appropriate width to emulate what the site will look like on the iPhone.


  • The Safari browser will behave quicker than on an actual iPhone (especially in regard to javascript performance);
  • It will display plugins and show fonts that may not be available;
  • There’ll be a lack of multi-touch support and “snapping” to columns while scrolling;
  • No auto-rotation;
  • No multi-touch/pinch-zoom;
  • Widgets will look different; &c.