Allow CE iPhone browser to access Facebook Messenger web version

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  • Updated 11 months ago
  • (Edited)
I have restrictions enabled on my iPhone, preventing me from installing apps like Facebook, Messenger, etc. When I try to access my Facebook messages from facebook.com, I get this message: "Switch Over to Messenger"

This is what I see:



I did some research and while Facebook does have a mobile version of Facebook Messenger, they only allow it on certain phones. Their reasoning is that they want to provide the best experience possible, so they don't want to allow users of newer phones to use the web version (see this article: https://techcrunch.com/2016/06/03/facebook-is-disabling-messaging-in-its-mobile-web-app-to-push-peop...). They're blocking web access to Messenger based on "User Agent" detection. Interestingly, when iOS 11 first came out (and therefore updated the User Agent being sent by the browser), I was able to access the web version for a day. Then Facebook updated things and I can no longer access it.


Here's how I would envision working around Facebook's block:

Hard-code something into the CE iOS browser so that if a page from Facebook Messenger is loaded, the CE browser will send a User Agent string that allows the page to be loaded. Some experimentation would need to be done in order to figure out what would need to be changed, but based on the fact that I could load it when iOS 11 was first released, my guess is that Facebook has a pretty defined list of User Agents that it checks for, and even a small change might get around it.

I did some experimenting and here is what I found:

This is the user agent sent by iOS 11. Facebook blocks this user agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 11_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/604.1.38 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/11.0 Mobile/15A356 Safari/604.1
This is a custom user agent I created. Facebook does not block this user agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 11_0 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/604.1.38 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/11.0 CE Browser
I tested this by loading the pages in Safari, like this: http://take.ms/NunFD

I realize this is a bit "hackish", however not being able to access Facebook messages has been my biggest source of frustration while using the CE browser for many years. I realize your new VPN-based approach could allow for using the native Messenger app, but I'd rather stick with your "Best" recommendation and not allow any apps that allow web access.

Another option would be to implement a "Request Desktop Site" feature like Chrome on mobile phones has, but that would be much bigger undertaking.

There are potentially other ways to work around this that I've not thought of—ultimately I'd just love to be able to access messages within the CE browser, regardless of the approach you take to allow for that.

I would love to see this feature implemented in the next version of the iOS CE browser.

Erik
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erikpallhansen

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  • hopeful

Posted 11 months ago

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Annelise, Official Rep

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Hello Erik,

Thank you for the information and feedback. I can definitely pass it along to our developers to take a look at. If you have any further questions or feedback feel free to contact our Customer Service at 877.479.1119.

Best regards,
Annelise