Can You Get IE for iPhone or iPad?

IE for iPhone
iPhone image credit: Apple; IE logo credit: Microsoft

Everyone has their favorite web browser. Whether you love Safari, Chrome, Firefox, or something else, you want to stick with your favorite on all of your devices. But what happens if your favorite web browser is Microsoft Internet Explorer (also know by its abbreviation, IE)?

It's all well and good to love IE on desktop computers (unless you use a Mac; IE hasn't existed on the Mac for years), but what about when you're using an iOS devices? Can you get IE for iPhone or iPad?

Internet Explorer on iPhone or iPad? No

The shortest answer is no, there's no IE for iPhone or iPad. Sorry to tell you this, lovers of Internet Explorer or those of you who are required to use it for work, but there never will be IE for iOS. There are two key reasons for this:

  1. Microsoft stopped making Internet Explorer for the Mac in 2006. If the company doesn't develop IE for the Mac, it seems very unlikely that Microsoft would suddenly bring IE to the iPhone.
  2. More importantly, Microsoft doesn't make IE for any operating system anymore. The company retired Internet Explorer completely in 2015 and replaced it with a new browser called Edge.

What About the Microsoft Edge Browser?

OK then, you may be saying, what about using Edge on the iPhone and iPad? Technically, this could be a possibility in the future. Microsoft could create a version of Edge that works on the iOS and release it through the App Store.

This seems unlikely—the pre-installed version of Safari dominates iOS browsing and most people who don't use Safari on iOS use Chrome. There just doesn't seem to be room for another major browser (plus, Apple requires that developers use some Safari technologies for third-party browsers, so it wouldn't truly be Edge). It's not a total impossibility, but I wouldn't hold your breath for Edge on iOS. It would be better to start getting used to Safari or Chrome.

So you can't run IE or Edge on the iPhone or iPad, but does that mean you're totally unable to use Microsoft browsers on iOS? Maybe not.

Change Your User Agent

It's possible that you may be able to fool some websites that require IE into thinking it's running on your iPhone by changing your user agent. The user agent is a bit of code that your browser uses to identify itself to each website you visit. When your user agent is set to Safari on iOS (the default for iPhones and iPads), your browser tells sites that that's what it is when you visit them. 

If your iOS device is jailbroken, you can grab a user-agent switching app from Cydia (though remember that jailbreaking has its downsides). With one of these apps, you can make Safari tell websites that it's many different browsers, including IE. In some cases, this may be enough to get you into the IE-only site you need.

If the site you're trying to visit requires IE because it uses technologies that only Internet Explorer supports, these apps won't be enough. They only change what Safari appears to be, not the fundamental technologies built into it.

Use a Remote Desktop

Another way to try to use IE on iOS is with a remote desktop program. Remote desktop programs let you log into a computer at your home or office over the Internet using your iPhone or iPad. When you do that, you have access to all the files and programs on that computer including Internet Explorer, if it's installed there.

Using a remote desktop isn't for everyone. For one thing, since you have to stream all data from the remote computer to your iOS device, it's much slower than using a native app installed on your iPhone. For another, it's not something that the average user will generally be able to use. It requires some technical skill or a corporate IT department to help you configure.

Still, if you want to give it a shot, search for Citrix or VNC apps at the App Store.

Alternative Browsers for iPhone and iPad

If you're adamantly opposed to using Safari on your iPhone or iPad, you can always try Chrome, available as a free download from the App Store

Don't like Chrome either? There are a lot of alternative browsers available for the iPhone and iPad, many of which offer features not available on Safari or Chrome. Maybe one of them will be more to your liking.