Big changes are coming to the way iPhones work in the European Union this year. In response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple says that starting with iOS 17.4, the iPhone operating system will support third-party app stores and browser engines, among other things… even if the company bends over backward to discourage developers from actually doing any of those things.

But one other change Apple is making? It’s killing support for installing progressive web apps (PWAs) so that they appear on the home screen like any other app. Update: Apple has reversed course and announced that users in the European Union WILL be able to continue installing web apps to the Home Screen, but this feature will need to use the same WebKit rendering engine as Apple’s Safari. 


Apple says this is another change it’s making in response to the DMA.

To be clear: the new EU rules do not prohibit smartphone operating system developers from allowing users to install progressive web apps. But up until recently any third-party web browser for iPhones and iPads had to use the same WebKit browser engine as Apple’s Safari app. The DMA requires Apple to allow browsers like Firefox or Chrome to use different engines, like Blink or Gecko.

Apple says when the WebKit browser engine that’s integrated into iOS was the only option, the company could exert strict security and privacy controls over web apps whether they were run in a browser or installed as PWAs that showed up on the Home Screen and worked more like native iOS apps.

The company says it cannot offer the same “isolation of storage and enforcement of system prompts to access privacy impacting capabilities on a per-site basis” for PWAs installed using non-WebKit browsers. But since Apple effectively has to treat all browser engines equally in the EU, the company’s solution is to just turn off the ability to install PWAs as Home Screen apps for all browsers.

Keep in mind that users in the EU will still be able to save a bookmark to website and web apps to their Home Screens. But instead of launching as a standalone app, offering integration with the operating system’s notification system and other features, and working even when your phone is offline, these bookmarks will just open a website in your default web browser.

Critics aren’t particularly pleased with Apple’s move. The Open Web Advocacy says if Apple was serious about the security implications, it could have spent the last 15 years working “to facilitate true browser competition worldwide” or the last two years since the DMA’s final text was released to “share functionality if historically self-preferenced to Safari with other browsers” so that the makers of browsers like Firefox and Chrome could allow users to install PWAs to the Home Screen with the same security and privacy features as Safari.

Meanwhile users outside of the EU will be able to continue using Home Screen PWAs… but won’t have the option to install third-party browser engines or app stores. One change that is global is support for game streaming: Apple will finally allow services like NVIDIA GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming and Amazon Luna to work on iOS devices.

via Engadget and 9to5Mac


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  1. I love how little by little the crappy giant is bending to EU laws. I am really enjoying this, specially as I am not an Apple user but I want it to fall into oblivion.

    C’mon, just a little more…:)

    1. I’m not enjoying at all how “little by little” is being implemented in the most asinine, backwards and malicious way possible.

      The instructions were clear and so was the intent of the law yet somehow Apple is finding ways to go in the opposite direction while pretending to comply in the slightest way possible

        1. The best way to combat this is NOT to find Apple. They are wealthy enough to cop any small fine, and besides they will push that forward to their EU consumers.

          The best way to combat this is to BAN the sale of iPads and iPhones. Even if temporarily for a month, or a year. It will hurt them more. And their investors will get cold feet, which would be much more damaging. You will then see Apple comeback to the table with more open demeanor.

          Hopefully we get there fast, so that consumers and companies get some freedom away from this monopoly control of this ecosystem. This isn’t the EU getting greedy, this is the pendulum swinging back, as what Apple got away with in 2020 would never fly back in 1990.

      1. As an actual Apple user I hate all of this. I didn’t care about the browser engine but about the relative security and seamless integration of the Apple platform.
        It’s funny, only the people who don’t use Apple and who are not affected seem to celebrate this.

        (And I own enough Android devices and had enough experience with many server and desktop OS in the last decades to know what I want.)

        1. There are plenty of ways Apple could have handled all of this to satisfy the DMA and also allow people like you to stay ensconced in your jailed Apple garden.

          It’s been awhile, but I remember that Sony used to have people go through a mildly technical process to “oem unluck” their android handhelds… something that no one would “accidentally” do, but something that wasn’t extremely difficult but maliciously complaint with some law.

          To this day, it blows my mind how people are okay with taking choices away from other people because of what they want for themselves.