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Apple admits breaking web apps on purpose in EU

Apple on Thursday announced a significant change for EU users that removes web apps from their home screens

Apple admits breaking web apps on purpose in EU

Apple on Thursday announced a significant change for EU users that web apps will be removed from their home screens due to complexities stemming from the Digital Markets Act set by the European Union. Progressive web apps (PWA), are web alternatives to iOS apps. In the past, web apps have been a popular feature, integrating web functionality with the familiar iOS app experience. The change came to light in the latest iOS 17.4 beta that was released for users in the EU as they noticed that PWAs were no longer accessible.

Initially mistaken for a bug in the software, this alteration was swift enough to spark concerns among developers and advocacy groups like Open Web Advocacy. Their argument was that relegating web apps to mere shortcuts undermines their significance within the operating system, raising questions about Apple’s commitment to an open web ecosystem.

Apple’s response to the change

The company said that the iOS ecosystem has always embraced home screen web apps by seamlessly integrating them with WebKit and its robust security framework. This seamless integration ensures that home screen web apps adhere to the stringent security and privacy standards set for native iOS apps. Each web app enjoys isolated storage and undergoes systematic prompts for accessing privacy-sensitive features, ensuring a per-site basis control.

However, regardless of the efficiency of the Web apps, Apple emphasized the critical role of this “isolation and enforcement” in thwarting malicious attempts by web apps to access data from other apps and exploit permissions, such as accessing the camera, microphone, or location, without the user’s consent. Apple underscored the importance of maintaining user control and transparency over their digital environment whilst adhering to the DMA set by the EU.

Apple assured EU users that they will retain seamless access to websites directly from their home screen via a bookmark, ensuring minimal disruption to their browsing experience. “While we anticipate only a minor impact on a limited number of users, we acknowledge the potential inconvenience this adjustment, made in alignment with DMA compliance efforts, may pose to developers of home screen web apps and our valued users.” the company said.

Previously from Apple

Prior to this significant transition, Apple recently announced its decision to grant European Union users the ability to download apps from alternative app platforms on iOS. This move marks a watershed moment, offering users and developers within the EU an unparalleled array of choices, all in alignment with the requirements set by the DMA.

Acknowledging the inevitability of accompanying risks to users and their devices with these expanded options for EU app developers, Apple pledged its commitment to mitigating such risks within the parameters set by the Digital Markets Act. Throughout this transformative process, Apple maintains that it remains steadfast in its implementation of new protective measures aimed at minimizing, though not entirely eliminating, the potential hazards posed to EU users by the DMA adjustments.

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