Digital Markets Act

Apple reverses decision over iPhone web apps in EU

Apple to allow iOS web apps in EU after previously planning to disable them as Digital Markets Act ‘compliance’ measure

Apple has reversed its decision disable web apps on its iOS architecture, a decision it had blamed on the EU’s incoming Digital Markets Act rules. The shift is part of Apple’s ongoing manoeuvres with EU regulators over the DMA, which Apple has criticised.

Web apps allow a web page to function in a way similar to an app, launching from the home screen, running full-screen and being able to send push notifications and store data.

Such apps bypass Apple’s App Store and are thus able to circumvent its commission charges, but have limited functionality.

Apple were removing the ability to install home screen web apps from iPhones and iPads in Europe when iOS 17.4 is released, saying it’s too difficult to keep offering the feature under the European Union’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA). Apple is required to comply with the law by March 6.

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Apple said the change was necessitated by a requirement to let developers “use alternative browser engines—other than WebKit—for dedicated browser apps and apps providing in-app browsing experiences in the EU.”

“We have received requests to continue to offer support for home screen web apps in iOS, therefore we will continue to offer the existing home screen web apps capability in the EU,” Apple said in a statement.

“Developers and users who may have been impacted by the removal of Home Screen web apps in the beta release of iOS in the EU can expect the return of the existing functionality for Home Screen web apps with the availability of iOS 17.4 in early March,”

The European Commission said it had “directly or indirectly” received more than 500 complaints about Apple’s original plan.

“Contrary to Apple’s public representation, the removal of Home Screen Web Apps on iOS in the EU was neither required, nor justified, under the Digital Markets Act,” the Commission said

Digitl Markets Act (DMA)

The Digital Markets Act targets “gatekeepers” of certain technologies such as operating systems, browsers, and search engines. It requires gatekeepers to let third parties interoperate with the gatekeepers’ own services, and prohibits them from favoring their own services at the expense of competitors.

Overall, Apple says its DMA preparations have involved “an enormous amount of engineering work to add new functionality and capabilities for developers and users in the European Union—including more than 600 new APIs and a wide range of developer tools.”