I am designing a mobile app that can be used offline but offers time sensitive data to users that can only be found from third party web sources. The type of data the user needs to access is traffic info. Think water, roads, and even airports.

The DOT, FAA, and private entities such as airports publish important, temporary information that is updated every 5 minutes or so. The development challenge of syncing all of this is enormous as you might expect but we'd like to at least offer users the ability to access this info straight from the source while minimizing workflow disruptions and not forcing the user to have to find her way back to our app after we push them to a web browser.

Does anybody know of an app that handles this elegantly or can anybody point me to any research in this area of forcing users to access the web from an app and helping them find their way back.

Thank you for reading this.

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    You can just embed the browser in your app and frame it with the controls they'll need to get around. Incidently, Android has done just fine with this for years: just use the persistent back button! Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


Regarding the smooth transition to the browser, the way this is done in iOS apps: there is an exit icon next to the relevant information or on a functional panel, tapping it gets user a little toast dialog "See this in browser: Open/Cancel" (sometimes there is one step before the dialog if the icon is for multi action), on tapping Open the browser is called out and user is transferred there. It is used in the native Mail and Pinterest.

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As for getting the user back, it's trickier, I have never seen any solutions to that. I guess it would require system to remember the app that was active right before the browser, and to display some panel from this app.
However, both Pinterest and Mail are able to display the browser data without switching to the browser, user is in the app, but sees the browser data in some kind of a frame.

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    Thanks Zoe K! I really appreciate all of the thought you put into this. The screen shots and icon highlight are nice details. I'll look into these app examples you give here. I imagine Android probably handles this the same way. Any other examples that anybody feels like sharing or experience with this is welcome.
    – Switters
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 22:34
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    Just a note that this interaction has recently improved in iOS 9 with an Apple-official API called Safari View Controller for opening a browser window inside your app. This is better for end user security and also makes all apps that require this interaction (eventually) use the same interaction design and button layout. Apps are somewhat slow to migrate to the new API but in a new app it's an easy and obvious choice to use the built in interaction for this.
    – Kit Grose
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 8:45

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