March 05, 2022
Web developers challenge Apple to allow other browser engines on iOS
Apple has faced multiple allegations of anticompetitive practices in recent years, and it looks like more is on the way. This time, a group of developers has launched a project called ” Open Web Advocacy ” that challenges Apple to allow other browser engines on iOS.
The group wants developers to have access to the same features available in the iOS version of Safari. At the same time, it’s asking Apple to open up iOS to third-party browser engines.
For those unfamiliar, iOS relies on the WebKit engine, which powers not only Safari, but all web content on Apple’s operating system. That’s because, unlike macOS, iOS apps must use WebKit as their browser engine. In other words, every web browser or web app you see on iOS is basically Safari running under a different ‘skin’.
“The group’s motive is to convince Apple to allow other browser engines on iOS so that iOS can be a better platform for developing things for the modern web,” explains Lawson. “Because right now every browser on iOS, be it Chrome, Firefox or Edge, is really just a brand skin of Safari, lagging behind.[andere browsers] because it has no competition on iOS.”
As the group told The Register , restricting apps to WebKit has become a problem because developers can’t even access some of the features that Safari has.
For example, full-screen capabilities are limited in third-party browsers, and Apple limits Apple Pay integration with Safari. At the same time, web-based apps cannot run in full screen mode and third-party browsers do not offer the option to add a web app to the home screen. Developers also complain about the lack of Web NFC and other APIs in the iOS WebKit.
The main idea of the group is to take their concerns to the UK Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to convince them that Apple needs to change its policy.
Safari has been lagging behind its competitors for a while now and this has become apparent as users have moved to other web browsers. There is a consensus among developers that Safari is missing many features – and they are being forced to use Apple’s technologies with even more restrictions in their apps.
Apple, of course, has its own reasons for forcing WebKit adoption on iOS. More than keeping users under the Safari engine, it gives the company more control over the web app experience, which is becoming popular among platforms banned from the App Store (such as Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming).
If Apple lets developers use third-party browser engines with access to all iOS APIs, it will eventually hurt App Store operations.
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