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Device Detection

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Device Detection

Device detection is a technique used to identify devices that are accessing online services via websites, apps, networks, streaming platforms, etc. It is a critical asset for businesses that want to maximize revenues from online channels and ensure positive user experiences.

This page uncovers how device detection works, why it’s used, and how it has transformed into something much bigger in recent years.

Device Detection

How device detection works

Device detection works by analyzing HTTP Headers including the User-Agent (UA) string. The detection mechanism uses patterns within the User-Agent string and Client Hints headers to match with an entry in the device database in real time.

For example, the API can be used to return the device’s operating system. This information can be used for any purpose where knowledge of the OS is needed, such as website content optimization, or serving targeted ads.

How device detection has changed

The term ‘device detection’ was coined several years ago, during a time when mobile traffic was difficult to identify and accounted for less than 5% of internet traffic vs nearly 60% today.

Now, the spread and diversity of devices means that device detection alone is not enough; all traffic must be understood, whether it’s desktop, mobile, or even non-human / invalid traffic (IVT). Businesses must fully understand the capabilities of user devices and whether they are what they claim to be. Doing this requires the implementation of a robust device intelligence solution.

Read more about device intelligence here.

How device detection has changed

HTTP Headers Parser

All device and browser combinations come with a unique set of HTTP headers, of which there are many different variations. Our parser allows users to simply copy and paste any set of HTTP headers to be checked against our device database. Detailed characteristics are then returned about that device.

Here's an example:

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 5.1.1; SAMSUNG SM-G925F Build/LMY47X) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) SamsungBrowser/3.2 Chrome/38.0.2125.102 Mobile Safari/537.36

Try out the tool with your own User-Agent string, or check out our list of example User-Agent strings. You can access the tool by clicking the link below (you need to register for a free DeviceAtlas account to use it)

Try HTTP Headers Parser

HTTP Headers Parser

Links to more resources

Technical resources

General resources

Interested to learn more?

Get in touch if you have any questions or would like to know more about the evolution of device detection!

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