The most recent beta version of iOS 17.4 seems to limit the features of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) specifically for users located within the European Union. This results in PWAs no longer being able to launch in their top-level window, taking up the whole screen. Instead, they now open within Safari, like a website shortcut.
Web apps take a backseat in iOS 17.4: A shift from progressive to pokey
Previously, PWAs offered a near-native experience, launching fullscreen and integrating seamlessly with the device. Now, however, European users get a prompt: open the app in Safari or cancel. This effectively reduces PWAs to mere website shortcuts, stripping away their unique advantages and raising concerns about Apple’s intentions.
Why are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) limited in the EU? possible reasons:
Possibly the EU’s Digital Markets Act mandates user choice for default browsers. Could Apple be enforcing this by forcing PWAs to open in any chosen browser, even if it’s not Safari? However, this explanation has several flaws.
It’s also possible this is an unintentional bug and will be fixed before the final release. However, the targeted nature of the change in an EU-specific beta raises questions.
Some speculate Apple is deliberately hindering PWAs, fearing their potential to disrupt their App Store model. After all, PWAs bypass revenue-generating App Store fees and offer more flexibility to developers. However, such a move would likely draw regulatory scrutiny and criticism from developers and users alike.
The lack of official communication from Apple fuels speculation and adds to the uncertainty. For now, users and developers wait, hoping for clarification and a solution that fosters, not hinders, web app innovation within the EU and beyond.
The change that has been made will have a significant impact. Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are becoming increasingly popular as they offer app-like experiences without requiring large downloads or being restricted by App Store regulations.
They are particularly beneficial for smaller companies or niche products. However, limiting their functionality in the EU could put them at a disadvantage. This could potentially stifle innovation and lead to a reduction in user choice.