Web devs create advocacy group aimed at relaxing iOS browser restrictions

Posted:
in iOS
The newly launched Open Web Advocacy (OWA) hopes to convince Apple to allow third-party browser engines on iOS.




The advocacy group, formed by software developers in the U.K., aims to promote a more open web by helping to ease some of Apple's more restrictive requirements for web apps. They express concern that Apple's current restrictions stifle innovation on mobile devices.

One of the groups founders, Stuart Langridge, explains the issue to The Register, as spotted by 9to5mac.

"[E]very browser on iOS, whether it be badged Chrome, Firefox or Edge is actually just a branded skin of Safari, which lags behind [other browsers] because it has no competition on iOS."

This is because all web content on iOS must use WebKit as their browser engine, essentially forcing all browser apps to function as skinned versions of Safari.

Apple limits what functions third-party browsers can do. For example, Langridge points out that third-party browsers cannot add shortcuts to the Home Screen. They also can't operate in full-screen, nor can they use Apple Pay.

On OWA's website, the group claims that the Safari/WebKit team has stalled in innovation for the last ten years and actively prevented Web Apps from taking off on mobile.

The group states that browsers must become their own standalone apps rather than requiring WebKit. They argue that standalone web apps would offer equivalent functionality to those built on WebKit and could even offer greater privacy and security.

The group plans to meet with the U.K. Competitions and Markets Authority to convince them that Apple needs to relax its current policies.

Apple has long been criticized for gating off certain features, especially on iPhone. Many banks and credit card companies have petitioned regulatory committees for access to the iPhone NFC chip, allowing them to create direct competitors to Apple Pay.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    Evan-elEvan-el Posts: 8member
    The phrase, "could even offer greater privacy and security" sounds like an empty promise.

    Here are the real considerations. Will 3rd party browser engines:
    1. be as secure?
    2. consume the same/less battery?
    3. not be injected with tracking software?

    If the answer is no to any of the above, then I'm not interested. And since the answer on the desktop is no to all of those, then why would iOS be any different. YES, Google Chrome is a battery hog.

    edited March 2022 iOS_Guy80lkrupptundraboy
  • Reply 2 of 11
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,105member
    I swear these "developers" have nothing to do but whine.  Go over to Android's wild-west OS if it's that important to you.

    As a developer myself, I'm embarrassed that these children are in the same group.  It's Apple's proprietary product. Get over it.
    jas99dewmeiOS_Guy80Detnator
  • Reply 3 of 11
    sflocal said:
    I swear these "developers" have nothing to do but whine.  Go over to Android's wild-west OS if it's that important to you.

    As a developer myself, I'm embarrassed that these children are in the same group.  It's Apple's proprietary product. Get over it.
    These people and the CMA simply do not understand the security implications of allowing a 3rd party language runtime that can run 3rd party code that is to say a 3rd party JavaScript JIT on iOS.

    I spend my working life trying to increase computer security then these people come along and demand to be shot in the foot it's extremely depressing.
    jas99dewmeiOS_Guy80
  • Reply 4 of 11
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    If Apple would keep on top of their own app development they'd leave far less avenue for these kinds of complaints.  

    It could be useful for any app to be able to add an icon to the home screen, e.g. for quick access to a particularly important screen, or document.
    And any app should be able to go full screen.  Bizarre that they can't.
  • Reply 5 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,370member
    What particular web apps can they show on other platforms can’t exist on iOS due WebKit?
    jas99dewme
  • Reply 6 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,484member
    mattinoz said:
    What particular web apps can they show on other platforms can’t exist on iOS due WebKit?
    Excellent question. Show us what we’re missing. Then, if we can’t live with the excruciating FOMO any longer, we will demand that Apple either allow the third parties to satisfy our demands or provide the glorious features themselves. I’m all for the power of the Pull model from its legion of loyal customers, because I trust Apple will respond to our large scale collective desires and will find a way to make it happen. Yeah, they may not respond to every niche request, but if customer demand is very high and very wide, they will respond.

    I’m sick of these third party developers trying to tell us what we should want and that only they can deliver on the Apple platforms that we already own and are quite happy with. I for one don’t feel trapped in the “walled garden” that these third party developers are always trying to tell us we need to escape from. If I felt trapped I’d leave on my own. I don’t need to be “educated’ by them to know that Apple’s walled garden does in fact have an unlocked and unguarded exit gate. Only the entrance gate is locked and guarded, which I am most grateful for. These third parties are Pushers and are trying to use regulators and incessant whining in public to try to convince Apple to open the entrance gate so the third parties can foist their crap on us, even though we have not shown any desire to buy what they are selling. 

    Just go away, go ply your crap on the Androiders.
    RudolfGottfriedmattinozDetnator
  • Reply 7 of 11
    rgw1469rgw1469 Posts: 12member
    My guess this advocacy group is just a Google sock puppet. 
    lkruppRudolfGottfriedauxio
  • Reply 8 of 11
    k129051k129051 Posts: 8member
    Notably the PDF released by the OWA group doesn't touch on the fact that Apple has never allowed developers to run code that wasn't included in their app.
    See: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5054732/is-it-prohibited-using-of-jitjust-in-time-compiled-code-in-ios-app-for-appstor from over 10 years ago
    Any 3rd party web browser using its own engine violates this by definition.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    k129051k129051 Posts: 8member
    To supplement my previous post, from https://developer.apple.com/programs/information/ :

    3.3.2 Except as set forth in the next paragraph, an Application may not download or install executable code. Interpreted code may only be used in an Application if all scripts, code and interpreters are packaged in the Application and not downloaded. The only exceptions to the foregoing are scripts and code downloaded and run by Apple's built-in WebKit framework or JavascriptCore, provided that such scripts and code do not change the primary purpose of the Application by providing features or functionality that are inconsistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application as submitted to the App Store.

    For OS X Applications submitted to Apple for distribution on the App Store, an Application may install or run interpreted or executable code (e.g., plug-ins and extensions) for use in conjunction with the Application only so long as such code: (a) does not change the Application's submitted binary or would not otherwise be considered an update (as determined in Apple’s sole discretion); and (b) does not change the primary purpose of the Application by providing features or functionality that are inconsistent with the intended and advertised purpose of the Application as submitted to the App Store.


  • Reply 10 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 2,370member
    dewme said:
    mattinoz said:
    What particular web apps can they show on other platforms can’t exist on iOS due WebKit?
    Excellent question. Show us what we’re missing. Then, if we can’t live with the excruciating FOMO any longer, we will demand that Apple either allow the third parties to satisfy our demands or provide the glorious features themselves. I’m all for the power of the Pull model from its legion of loyal customers, because I trust Apple will respond to our large scale collective desires and will find a way to make it happen. Yeah, they may not respond to every niche request, but if customer demand is very high and very wide, they will respond.

    I’m sick of these third party developers trying to tell us what we should want and that only they can deliver on the Apple platforms that we already own and are quite happy with. I for one don’t feel trapped in the “walled garden” that these third party developers are always trying to tell us we need to escape from. If I felt trapped I’d leave on my own. I don’t need to be “educated’ by them to know that Apple’s walled garden does in fact have an unlocked and unguarded exit gate. Only the entrance gate is locked and guarded, which I am most grateful for. These third parties are Pushers and are trying to use regulators and incessant whining in public to try to convince Apple to open the entrance gate so the third parties can foist their crap on us, even though we have not shown any desire to buy what they are selling. 

    Just go away, go ply your crap on the Androiders.
    Yes, that is the thing about the walled garden the customer is the gardener, not a prisoner. I might have paid to have the wall to be built but it doesn't become a garden till I select which plants to bring in and tend to. I choose if they are weeds or interesting discoveries. These people are like birds dropping seeds that become invasive weeds and they still want to stop me from removing them.
    edited March 2022
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