Apple has faced multiple accusations of anti-competitive practices in recent years, and it looks like there’s more to come. This time, a group of developers started a project called “Open Web Advocacywhich challenges Apple to allow alternative browsers on iOS.
The group wants developers to have access to the same features available in the iOS version of Safari. At the same time, he asks Apple to open iOS to third-party browser engines.
For those unfamiliar, iOS relies on the WebKit engine, which not only powers Safari, but all web content on Apple’s operating system. Indeed, unlike macOS, iOS applications must use WebKit as the browser engine. In other words, every web browser or web app you see on iOS is essentially Safari running under another “skin”.
“The group’s motive is to try to persuade Apple that it needs to allow other browser engines on iOS, so that iOS can be a better platform to develop things for the modern web,” explained Lawson. “Because right now every browser on iOS, whether branded Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, is really just a branded skin of Safari, which is lagging behind [other browsers] because it has no competition on iOS.
As the band said The registerlimiting apps to WebKit has become a problem since developers don’t even have access to some of Safari’s features.
For example, full-screen functionality is limited in third-party browsers, and Apple limits Apple Pay integration to Safari. At the same time, web applications cannot run in full screen and third-party browsers do not provide the option to add a web application to the home screen. Developers also complain about the lack of Web NFC and other APIs in the iOS WebKit.
The group’s main idea is to take their concerns to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in order to convince them that Apple needs to change its policies.
Safari has been lagging behind its competitors for quite some time now, and this became evident when users switched to other web browsers. There’s a consensus among developers that Safari is missing a lot of features – and they’re forced to use Apple’s technologies with even more limitations in their apps.
Apple, of course, has its own reasons for forcing the adoption of WebKit 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 App Store-banned platforms (such as Xbox Cloud Gaming from Microsoft).
If Apple lets developers adopt third-party browser engines with access to all iOS APIs, it will ultimately hurt App Store business.