Twitter: raymondcamden

Address: Lafayette, LA, USA

FYI - iOS, JavaScript, and inactive tabs

01-20-2013 5,474 views Mobile, JavaScript 5 Comments

This is something I had heard before, but didn't really think about it until a reader I was helping ran into it. It involves Safari on iOS (and I believe just iOS 5 and higher). If you have a web page using timed JavaScript (for example, a setInterval), and switch to another tab (or another app), then the operating system will pause the JavaScript environment. Here is an incredibly simple way to see this in action.

The code simply updates a div with a timestamp and an incrementing value. If you open this in your web browser on an iDevice, note the current value, and switch over to another tab, you'll see when you come back that the page had been paused in the background.

I tried to get around this by adding a focus/blur event handler to my code...

Which didn't work either since, hello, you can't run a JavaScript event handler when all of JavaScript is paused! So much for me being clever.

Anyway, there is a much simpler way around this. Check out this solution from StackOverflow: Handling standby on iPad using Javascript


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  • Commented on 01-22-2013 at 12:25 PM
    Hey Ray,

    Mobile safari has pagehide and pageshow events for helping deal with this. I don't think it works for going between tabs, but it should help when going between apps.
  • Commented on 01-22-2013 at 12:26 PM
    Oh yeah? Let me test. I think you are wrong. If I'm wrong, I'll just delete this comment and it will be like I never doubted you.
  • Commented on 01-22-2013 at 12:34 PM
    That works - but - you would have to use the same technique as described in the SO article. Ie, given that I know how long I was gone, what did I miss?
  • Commented on 01-22-2013 at 12:37 PM
    I guess it kinda depends on how you setup your loop. If your loop is really do this every 10 seconds then you need the heartbeat.

    If the loop triggers every 10 seconds and your code says do what ever I need to since the last time I did it, then the events for show hide may be enough.

    But isn't that the quintessential answer: "It depends!" :)
  • Commented on 01-22-2013 at 12:38 PM
    Agreed. And more options == more gooder. Thanks for sharing this. (Of course, the best solution, probably, would be the Page Visibility API!)