Apple changes course, will keep iPhone EU web apps how they are in iOS 17.4

Enlarge / EU legislation has pushed a number of changes previously thought unthinkable in Apple products, including USB-C ports in iPhones sold in Europe. (credit: Getty Images)

Apple has changed its stance on allowing web apps on iPhones and iPads in Europe and will continue to let users put them on their home screens after iOS 17.4 arrives. They will, however, have to be “built directly on WebKit and its security architecture,” rather than running in alternative browsers, which is how it had worked up until new legislation forced the issue.

After the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) demanded Apple open up its mobile devices to alternative browser engines, the company said it would remove the ability to install home screen web apps entirely. In a developer Q&A section, under the heading “Why don’t users in the EU have access to Home Screen web apps?”, Apple said that “the complex security and privacy concerns” of non-native web apps, and what addressing them would require “given the other demands of the DMA and the very low user adoption of Home Screen web apps,” made it so that the company “had to remove the Home Screen web apps feature in the EU.” Any web app installed on a user’s home screen would have simply led them back to their preferred web browser.

Apple further warned against “malicious web apps,” which, without the isolation built into its WebKit system, could read data, steal permissions from other web apps, and install further web apps without permission, among other concerns.

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