Do you find yourself checking feeds on your iPhone and thinking, “Man… I wish Google Reader looked like this on my computer, too.” I have. Using Fluid.app and a bit of user agent trickery, you can make it happen.
Wait, What’s Fluid.app?
Fluid is a free Mac application that creates Site Specific Browsers (SSBs). An SSB allows you to run a single web site or application as a stand-alone Mac application, independent of your other web browser windows or tabs. This way, it is always instantly available via the Dock or application switcher, with no fumbling of tabs. Also, if your browser crashes, your important sites (in SSBs) are kept safe from harm.
What types of apps might you want to run in a SSB? How about your CRM, project management app, feed reader, email app, etc. Anything you use a LOT.
If you’re on Windows, Mozilla’s Prism creates SSBs, but the main highlights of this article are Fluid/Safari-only.
Setting It Up
When you fire up Fluid, you need to choose the URL (m.google.com) and the name of your application (I chose “Mobile Google”). You can then choose a custom application icon. Why do this? Otherwise it’ll go with the teenie little favicon the site uses. There are plenty of high resolution application icons on Flickr you can use that will look more like OS X icons.
Once you enter all that information, you can launch your new app.
Changing the User Agent
Hey wait, that didn’t look like the iPhone version! Nope. You’re still just looking at the generic mobile version non-iPhone users will get. Take a moment to think about how lucky you are that you have an iPhone.
Here’s how you change the user agent in Fluid so that it thinks it is an iPhone:
I’m going to guess that you need Safari’s “Develop” menu turned on in order to do this. You can do that via the “Advanced” pane in the Safari preferences.
Opening External Pages
While I don’t want to do any extraneous surfing from this new SSB, I also monitor things like the BatchBook support forums and our Summize searches in Google Reader. So, if I want to open something quickly to take action, I’d rather just do it right in my little SSB. So, I do this by setting this preference below:
And there you have it. You’ve got a handy little Google Reader (and Gmail/Calendar/Docs/etc.) widget on your desktop at all times. Enjoy!