iOS 15.4 beta reveals Safari push notifications, WebXR and improved PWA support

iOS 15.4 beta hints at major new additions to Safari browser, some of which include web notifications, PWA improvements, WebXR support, media and WebRTC additions, web performance improvements, and more.

Apple has not officially announced these new Safari features in iOS 15.4 beta, but most of these new changes can be found as experimental features.

iOS 15.4 Safari

New Safari features in iOS 15.4

For a long time, Apple has lagged behind in supporting the latest PWA standards. Compared to Android, iOS has not supported many features such as PWA app icons, push notifications, and more. This is seemingly changing with iOS 15.4 beta.

As noted by Maximiliano Firtman, the following changes can be found in Safari in the new beta:

  • Faster loading for Web App Manifest. It is now parsed on page load, and not when the share sheet is opened.
  • Icons support for Progressive Web Apps. However, if developers use Apple’s own “apple-touch-icon”, it will gain priority when used by Safari. Currently, the PWA icon only loads when you go to the “Add to Home Screen” section.
  • Web push notifications support is finally coming to iOS and iPadOS. Currently, it’s hidden behind two Safari experiments, namely “Built-In Web Notifications” and “Push API”, however, as Firtman notes, the feature does not work even after enabling the toggles. The feature seems to be a work-in-progress and we will have to see how it evolves over the upcoming betas. Some developers have speculated that the feature would not be ready until iOS 16.
  • WebXR support is also available in experiments. This includes an AR mode, device API, gamepads module, and hand input module. Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset is expected to ship with its own OS, but having WebXR support in Safari would be helpful for developers.
  • A few updates for Media and WebRTC are available which include Vorbis and Opus audio decoders, MediaSourceInline, and Encoded Transform API.
  • There are also a few new performance-related experiments which include the following:
    • Service Worker Navigation Preload
    • Lazy Image Loading (now enabled by default)
    • RequestVideoFrameCallback
    • SharedWorker
    • Prefer Page Rendering Updates
    • Web Locks API
    • TransformStream API 
  • There is also a new option to reset all experiments to default in settings. Previously, there was no way to go back to the default settings which meant that you had to check on another device to match the default ones.

These are all the updates from the first beta so there is a chance that Apple might not release some or all of the aforementioned new Safari features in iOS 15.4, however, it is good to see that Apple is working on so many additions to Safari. Many of these have been long requested by developers such as PWA improvements and push notifications support.

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