In its tantrum with Europe, Apple broke web apps in iOS 17 beta, still hasn't fixed them

Trending 3 weeks ago

Apple has based on for years that developers who don't want to abide by its rules for autochthonal iOS apps tin ever constitute web apps.

It has done truthful successful its platform guidelines, successful congressional testimony, and in court. Web developers, for their part, support that Safari and its underlying WebKit motor still deficiency nan method capabilities to let web apps to compete pinch autochthonal apps connected iOS hardware. To this day, it's argued, nan consequence cart's laggardly implementation of Push Notifications remains subpar.

The enforcement of Europe's Digital Markets Act was expected to alteration that – to beforehand title held backmost by gatekeepers. But Apple, successful a policy change critics person called "malicious compliance," appears to beryllium putting web apps astatine an moreover greater disadvantage nether nan guise of compliance pinch European law.

In nan 2nd beta merchandise of iOS 17.4, which incorporates codification to accommodate Europe's Digital Markets Act, Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) person been demoted from standalone apps that usage nan full surface to shortcuts that unfastened wrong nan default browser.

This appears to solely impact users successful nan European Union, though your mileage whitethorn vary.

Concerns astir this demotion of PWAs surfaced earlier this month, pinch nan merchandise of nan first iOS 17.4 beta. As noted by Open Web Advocacy – a group that has lobbied to make nan web level much tin – "sites installed to nan location surface grounded to motorboat successful their ain top-level activities, opening successful Safari instead."

PWAs are expected to make web apps (sites) usability much for illustration autochthonal apps connected mobile devices. They're expected to beryllium tin (through entree to APIs for record strategy access, media controls, app badging, and afloat clipboard support), reliable (by functioning successful nan absence of a web connection), and installable (launchable from a location surface icon successful their ain standalone model alternatively of wrong a browser tab).

But nan debut of iOS 17.4 beta 2 connected Tuesday suggests nan breakage of PWAs is deliberate. The Register understands Apple's alteration will origin users to suffer section information successful existing web apps, because web apps and Safari person different retention locations, and it will besides break notifications, because there's nary measurement to alteration notifications without app installation.

Mysk, an iOS improvement business and occasional information investigation patient tally by Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk, claims that Apple, alternatively than repairing PWAs, has doubled down by adding a pop-up menu arsenic portion of nan interaction.

"Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are still abnormal for EU users successful iOS 17.4 beta 2," lamented Mysk. "But now there's a caller pop-up. The pop-up someway indicates that PWAs are abnormal intentionally, alternatively than being a bug."

Mysk besides posted a video illustrating nan change.

The Register asked Apple nationalist relations – which tends not to respond to nan nationalist – whether nan business is really arsenic bad arsenic it looks. We've received nary response.

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"We considered that Apple mightiness effort thing for illustration this, but dismissed it arsenic excessively blatantly anti-competitive moreover for them," noted Alex Moore, executive head of Open Web Advocacy. "Apple could travel retired and opportunity this is unfinished aliases it's a bug, but if this functionality ever makes it onto users' devices, it will show that Apple is actively seeking to artifact nan web from ever competing reasonably pinch their App Store."

A seasoned web exertion developer astatine a Fortune 100 corporation, who asked not to beryllium identified for deficiency of clearance to speak to nan press, expressed disbelief to The Register and hoped that Apple will explain nan situation.

"First take: this is shocking and brazen, but it makes a definite benignant of consciousness arsenic a last-ditch effort to comply based connected highly antagonistic feedback from announced plans," nan developer told us.

"Second take: this can't perchance beryllium right; it must beryllium a placeholder for immoderate unannounced API that they consciousness backed into. Doing what this looks for illustration would beryllium a atomic bomb.

This is shocking and brazen, but it makes a definite benignant of consciousness arsenic a last-ditch effort to comply

"Third take: I'm not judge that reference nan beverage leaves matters much; this is wholly self-inflicted … they gave [those porting code] nary time, nary support, and nary clarity.

"If it's what it looks like, it's a nonstop battle connected nan web and they merit to beryllium hoist by their ain petard if nan extremity is to contradict porting browsers immoderate expertise to beryllium connected nan location surface pinch a scorched-earth 'if we can't power it, cipher tin person it' approach."

In a connection to The Register, Mysk said Apple has made galore changes successful iOS 17.4 to comply pinch nan DMA rules successful Europe – specified arsenic allowing browser engines different than Safari's WebKit.

"Safari has ever been nan only browser that tin tally PWAs connected iOS," nan Mysk researchers explained. "Once a PWA is installed by tapping connected 'Add to Home Screen,' they will tally wrong a Safari instrumentality aliases process, moreover if they were installed from a third-party browser."

Apple redecorates its iPhone situation to appease Europe


The Mysk unit said that erstwhile Apple first announced nan changes to accommodate nan DMA and released nan first iOS 17.4 beta, they were excited to spot really PWAs execute connected iOS pinch different browsers – thing not antecedently allowed. But to their surprise, they recovered nan PWA functionality had been removed for EU users.

"For PWAs to run, nan browser has to create a constituent called a work worker," they explained. "It seems that Apple hasn't recovered a measurement to let different browsers to create their ain work workers without compromising nan sandboxed quality of apps connected iOS. And nan only measurement to fulfill this DMA norm by nan deadline successful March is to disable PWAs for each browsers. And now each browsers are equal."

With nan presence of iOS 17.4 beta 2, PWA support is still abnormal for EU users.

"Apple usually addresses nan issues of temporarily removing features successful beta releases successful nan merchandise notes," Mysk stated. "The merchandise notes of beta 1 and 2 didn't mention thing concerning PWAs, aliases web apps arsenic Apple likes to telephone them. As nan deadline of March 7 approaches, nan chances that nan characteristic gets re-enabled successful clip don't look good, but everything is open." ®