Turning a Webpage into a Basic iOS App

Screenshot of the "Make app from url" shortcut displayed on macOS

Why Would I Need This?

iOS applications are powerful tools when used correctly. They help with accomplishing an intent, “I want to do X”. Sometimes a service doesn’t have a native iOS application and solely exists as a webpage or web application. This means always needing to open the browser on the device and then navigate to the appropriate tab to access it. You can mitigate this with the “Add to Home Screen” feature of Safari, but it still isn’t ideal (as it still opens in the browser).

I’m all about efficiency and better user experiences. If we can turn the webpage into a basic iOS application, that’s a huge win in my books. The following are some of the benefits of a dedicated app:

  • Opening the application is one step.
  • The application ends up being searchable/openable via search.
  • The application doesn’t share context with other tabs through the browser, it occupies its own space.
  • The application sheds any extra UI that the browser contains. It has the feel of a native application, occupying the full screen.
  • By avoiding the browser the focus is kept on the application and prevents distractions.

How to Accomplish This?

I’ll keep this part short as I didn’t pioneer this and mainly want to share the solution I found. This article (“Turn Any Website into a Full-Screen App on Your iPhone”) from GadgetHacks, explains the process in depth.

The TL;DR point is to use this iOS Shortcut (“Make app from url”). There might be other ways to accomplish this, but I found this way works quite well.

Following the above allows you to create basic iOS applications for any webpage or web application. I am particularly fond of using it for ChatGPT right now.