iOS 5: Opening Safari Web Links in the Background

Mobile web browsing has certainly become easier and more pleasurable since the first iPhone fell into our grubby little paws, hasn’t it? With every iteration of iOS, Apple’s come up with new ways to make our experience better. On that note, one of the features of iOS 5 that I’ve enjoyed is the option to toggle “Open in Background” on for links, which makes my Internet life so much nicer. It’s the little things, you know?

So the default iOS behavior is that when you touch and hold on a link in Safari, you’re presented with a pop-up list of options. One of those choices is Open in New Page

That’s pretty cool, I suppose, if you don’t want to navigate away from where you are just to look at a different page. The problem (from my point of view, at least) is that doing so takes Safari’s focus from the current page to the new one I’m opening, which is almost never what I want. Fortunately, iOS 5 offers a way to change that—hallelujah! So to switch things around and enjoy this feature yourself, open the Settings app on your iOS 5 device. Scroll down the page until you see the preferences for Safari, and tap on that. On the next page, you’ll notice an option to change how opening links works. 

If you switch the setting to In Background, touching and holding briefly on a link will give you a new, improved menu choice. 

Selecting that means that the new article (or whatever) that you’d like to check out will load quietly while you’re still on your current page, and when you’re ready, you can just tap on the icon in the lower-right corner of Safari’s window to access it. The number there will indicate how many other pages you have open.

As I said, it’s the little things. I’m surprised at how much more I like this behavior than the default, and maybe you will, too. In fact, I demand that this tip be useful to you to validate my existence here at TMO. Or could you at least pretend? Pretty please?