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iOS 17.4 Update Ends PWA Support in the European Union

In the latest iOS 17.4 beta update, Apple made a significant move by disabling the functionality of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) within the European Union. This decision led to widespread speculation about whether it was a temporary measure or a bug. However, Apple clarified that the removal of PWAs was deliberate and they do not plan to reinstate them.

Apple's rationale for this action revolves around the introduction of support for alternative browser engines in the EU, which presents considerable security challenges and the extensive work required for a new implementation. The company emphasized the importance of storage isolation and system prompts for accessing privacy-sensitive functions, which are integral to the privacy and security framework of native iOS apps. The absence of such measures raises the risk of malicious web apps exploiting data from other apps or unauthorized access to the user's camera, microphone, and location data.

To address these security vulnerabilities, Apple pointed out the need for a new integration architecture, a task deemed impractical in light of the demands of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and the low usage of Home Screen web apps. Consequently, in compliance with DMA requirements, the feature was removed in the EU.

EU iPhone users can still use web apps by adding bookmarks to the Home Screen, but they will lack PWA functionalities such as offline support, notifications, and seamless integration. These apps will now open in Safari or another browser, lacking dedicated window support, long-term local storage, and notification capabilities.

Apple acknowledges that this change, driven by DMA compliance, will impact a minority of users and expresses regret over any inconvenience caused to developers and users of Home Screen web apps. This update is part of a series of adjustments Apple is making in the EU, including permitting alternative app marketplaces, payment methods, browser engines, and more, to align with new regulatory standards.

Top comments (28)

link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone

It's so annoying to see this sort of malicious compliance all it does it hurt the end user. Android, windows and Mac OS manage to have PWA and multi-browser support.

I hope Apple fix this either by being forced to or by having a conscience about it but time will tell.

lilxyzz profile image

I totally agree Andrew! It's clear that seamless PWA support across platforms can greatly benefit users. Hopefully, Apple will reconsider its stance in light of user feedback and evolving standards. The future indeed holds the answers.

brense profile image
Rense Bakker

I think it's a great excuse for apple to force apps back into the app store, where they can actually charge you money to be listed in the first place.

miguelqueiroz profile image
Miguel Queiroz

The only reason in my opinion!

syeo66 profile image
Red Ochsenbein (he/him)

Another reason to never buy an Apple product again. I like how they prove my point time and time again

miguelqueiroz profile image
Miguel Queiroz • Edited

Apple's failure to promote Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and its limited functionality on iOS compared to Android has significantly hindered its potential. Developers found themselves constrained, unable to leverage PWA fully, especially before the introduction of push notifications (very recently go tell!), causing user low adoption rate, and even lack of awareness among iOS users of what's a PWA. If users knew that a PWA does not needs to install from App Store and consume their phone storage in the same way, users would prefer it. No one wants to install apps to take space! And Apple knows that, creating a barrier to its widespread use. However, the appeal of PWA for both developers and clients is undeniable, offering a lightweight alternative that bypasses traditional app store installations

The resistance towards PWA may also stem from Apple's desire to maintain control over app distribution and its revenue model, particularly regarding commissions on purchases. This approach not only limits but goes against consumer interests, favoring corporate gains over innovation and user convenience! Also one source code to all phones (Android and Iphone) Oh, there is a catch, their Mac sales would also go down?

... Right! The necessity to use a Mac for development to compile iOS apps for the app Store have become more pronounced and problematic! This reality underscores a growing disconnect between Apple's practices and the needs of the developer community.Perhaps it's time for users to reevaluate their loyalty to Apple. *Allowing the company to become as obsolete as Internet Explorer *.

By failing to keep up with technological advancements and developer needs, Apple risks becoming irrelevant in the fast-paced tech landscape.

Among developers, there's a shared sentiment that iOS often lags behind, especially in adopting new features in CSS, JavaScript, and other technologies. This perception only adds to the frustration and challenges faced by those looking to innovate and push boundaries.

My advice? Think twice before investing in an iPhone. In many ways, you end up paying more for less, and lack those new cool features of the new Web!

R.I.P 🤞 An inconvenient truth that's becoming harder to ignore

remejuan profile image
Reme Le Hane

While it’s not great that Apple does require you to use a Mac for development, it is also literally superior than basically every windows laptop out there in both performance and battery life, and disturbingly even price. There is absolutely no way in hell I would got back to developing on windows and Linux was that great either.

As for PWAs their implementation on Android, it’s also shit, it’s better than apples, but only marginally, they are still fundamentally useless when compared to normal apps.

So apples may be worse, but androids is a far cry from being good.

I was an Apple hater until like 2018 I guess when I realised that, sure while android does move faster, they do have better features and Apple is certainly slower, but they do it better. The limited number of devices and architectures makes it far easier for developers to maintain quality and consistency among apps.

The ecosystem is extremely useful, the seamless of simple things like Universal Clipboard and automatic completion of the OTP and then deleting the messages from either text or email, tiny but extremely useful in the every day. I often copy things from my phone to paste on my Mac.

I often make use of continuity camera and universal control. Windows has no seamless way of doing things like that.

While I don’t agree with everything Apple does, when it comes to their hardware/software, they are at a level of superiority over the rest that leaving would literally make my job harder, my companies even stopped issue cheaper windows machines in lieu of MacBook Airs for support and admin staff cause of the battery life and literally being cheaper than most decent entry level windows machines with a fraction of the performance, battery life and longevity.

I cannot even recommend windows machines to friends anymore cause for 90% of them an Air would be faster, more convenient cheaper.

Only thing for the every day user Mac truly sucks at is a gaming and an Air would still perform better than a price equity windows machine and then select few games that would work.

ktsangop profile image
ktsangop • Edited

MacBooks are indeed amazing in terms of hardware and performance,
but oh boy, MacOs is a crippling OS. If any other OS had so many restrictions, over how you use your hardware with software, then it would probably match their performance.
It's good for basic use but not for a serious techie or software engineer.

No developer I know of (that has tried MacOS after using Windows/Linux) could ever imagine this being their primary choice for work. In fact Windows (with the addition of WSL) is probably the most complete OS for serious work at the moment.

iPhones are also a pain in the @ss in a similar manner.
Try to send files from iOS to Android and you'll see what I mean.
I am still waiting for the pictures my sister took back in 2021 with her iPhone.
Guess what. I am never going to get them.
No bluetooth, and no way to share an album from iCloud with anyone that hasn't got an iPhone.
Paying 1200$ and not being able to share a freaking photo without going to hell and back. Ridiculous...

Back to PWAs, if Apple doesn't let you send a photo, I doubt that it will ever care for anyone in the EU or anywhere else using PWAs.
It doesn't fit their way of controlling the market, so bye-bye...

miguelqueiroz profile image
Miguel Queiroz

Not all windows machines are equal, mine is very good and is not even slow. Of course if you compare to low end cheap laptops and depending on your work need it might underperform.

After all is all about choices. The hardware diversity is important because not all people have money to buy high-end computers, so in a way It helps people. It gives them a chance to a have a laptop, a freedom, while Apple is always "expensive" overrated making computer or technology not available to everyone. To feed the notion of status, and premium.

PWA are not useful? You very wrong. There are tons of API that make them very close to apps, including access to hardware API, Storage, Bluetooth etc .. have you ever done a real project using PWA APIs?

The OTP also exists in android, actually the iOS only show the OTP code in the keyboard as an hint, while on Android I can indeed fill the input box, also if you are logged in the same google account (phone - computer) the code can also be automatically fill in the computer.

Apple is just far behind in web tech stack period. For example push notifications were only recently in January or so introduced go tell! And they are always dismissed when on Android you can make them sticky. Push notifications actions are like hidden always, need to use 3D touch to see buttons, many users don't even know it, bad UX.

I could have a Mac and iPhone, is not a question of money. Just don't want to stuck on their rules and lack of options and being overall less advanced. Any developer knows that.

They have good hardware overall... their phones are cute.. however that are many android phones with much advanced capabilities like on screen fingerprint, a more functional NFC that can be used for other purposes rather than apple pay...

All they want is control and of course money, even recently the Spotify Ban, and antitrust penalty in EU shows very well that apple, anti competitive. Everything must pass by apple store to make money and get their comissions... It's like they are afraid of losing income and this DMA thing and PWA is once again a closing door. Its like I said they are closing and closing their openess to the world in exchange of control on their money model.

Their greed risks them to sink, ending to be outpaced by other competitors. Seen that with Internet Explorer. When all the cool features are on Android phones and Iphones will be behind the curve. Actually their phones have nothing new, it's always the same thing similar thing nothing new.

I'm wrong?

Thread Thread
remejuan profile image
Reme Le Hane

I don’t care that they are behind, cause having come from Android I enjoy the fact that they behind cause they do it properly, they don’t rush half baked features that end up failing because they half baked.

I had no idea Android had that copy text from image feature and it was apparently available for the last 5 years that I’d used one because it was soo well hidden away. Sure Apple launched it 5 years later, but they stuck it right into the camera and highlighted it on every photo that had text right in the photos app.

I left Android cause they are simply advanced for the sake of being advanced with little consideration for the feature being useful, usable or even discoverable in some cases.

Apple works in a unified was, working on a small set of features at a time and focusing on how to maximise and simplify the usability of it, Google works in disconnected teams and churns out features for the sake of churning out features, reaching stupid team goals and KPIs.

They are fantastic in the way they create and push the boundaries, Apple is fantastic in actually making those features useful and usable for the user.

I’ve owned like 30 Android phones, I still own one for work purposes from all the way back to the Samsung Nexus. I’m on my 3rd iPhone and am not missing any of the features from Android. Using an Android, and the one I have is a Samsung which has among the best UX, and that shit makes no sense, I hate the fact that on Android I actually need to either put icons on my main screen or use the ass backwards drawer. On my iPhone I can search for any app just pulling down, even from my Lock Screen. I don’t need under screen fingerprint sensors because all I need to do is look at my phone to unlock it. No need to hunt around for the correct spot on the screen and wait for it to find my fingerprint and figure shit umpire, pick up and I’m done, even with glasses, flip my mountain goggles don’t even stop it from working.

I will rather stick with a quality product that’s behind that an ahead one that makes no sense for the user. My only regret is not abandoning Android sooner.

brense profile image
Rense Bakker

it is also literally superior than basically every windows laptop out there in both performance and battery life, and disturbingly even price.

That's the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard...

shailennaidoo profile image
Shailen Naidoo

I used to be a huge backer of PWAs but I do not see it becoming something outside the development community. It is amazing technology but it feels as if PWAs are like what were 3D TVs in the early 2010s, they simply did not take off in the way that they expected and now it is dead in the water.

janmpeterka profile image
Jan Peterka

Well, big part of that was Apple's reluctance to support PWA.
Until last year, PWA were practically useless in iOS, as they didn't support push notifications. As even then, when apple added some PWA features, its support was far behind that of other platforms.

In small team and in hobby project and similar, PWA is technology with potential to make web apps much more useful and accessible to end users.

I personally work on two hobby projects, both with some hundereds of users, who can profit event from basic PWA.
In my work team, we cannot affort to hire two native developers to make native apps, but, as we have a lot of feedback from users that they would appreciate mobile apps, we recently went into PWA space. Now, if Apple kills that, we are pretty stuck.

Yes, the technology needs maturing, needs more features and more support. But it has very big potential in doing better, more useful apps for people when your resources are limited, democratizing mobile ecosystem.

elsyng profile image

Yep, dead on arrival, imho.

casen profile image

This is a real bummer. Apps are so heavy handed, and honestly they feel like the incorrect architectural approach.

It’s like a smart TV vs the old school. Now you need a Netflix app to watch with a special account and subscription. Back then, you just flip the channel and boom you’re in business!

The web should be open! User data should belong to users. I should not have to log in to a million different silos that have zero interoperability.

thethirdrace profile image

Replace these words in the article and see social media go nuclear...

Apple => Microsoft
iOS => Windows
PWA => Other browsers than Internet Explorer
Safari => Internet Explorer
Home Screen => Desktop

It's the exact same premise, stop whining Apple and get with the times...

remejuan profile image
Reme Le Hane

As a web developer of coming on 15 years now, I’ve never really seen the point of a PWA, when they arrived it was hailed as this amazing step forward and I know people love to hate on Apple for slow adoption, but androids implementation is not actually much better. Sure they support push notifications. But that’s limited to a sliding time scale of up to 15 minutes, after which the app would need to be relaunched in order to be able to receive background notifications

Like what’s the actual point, sure a bit of extra storage, but again limit background running timeframe far lower than that of any native app.

As an idea they are great, but they are far too limited to be of any real use and are not really worth the effort in developing ones as actual alternatives to apps.

I don’t agree with what apples doing, but it’s also nothing special. It’s going to have a minuscule impact on a tech that never actually took off.

janmpeterka profile image
Jan Peterka • Edited

But that’s limited to a sliding time scale of up to 15 minutes, after which the app would need to be relaunched in order to be able to receive background notifications

Can you please point me to some resource on this? We have some troubles with push notifications in our PWA, so this might be a reason, but I never read about that. Thank you!

remejuan profile image
Reme Le Hane

Can’t recall, I found it when Apple announced notifications and I went to check if it was still the case when every one went anti Apple again for being behind.

But Android governs storage access and background lifespan based on individual user usage patterns for the PWA itself and PWA does not have the ability to register a notification on the system level which is how the operating system itself wakes even killed apps upon incoming notifications.

Once a PWA Is moved to background it’s only kept in memory and left access to whatever it’s registered until this unknown time has lapsed, at which point it’s cleared from basically everything except recent apps list, but it’s still “dead”.

It’s why I cannot use them, every company I work with, push notifications is the number 1 priority, our products literally do not function without them. Our push notifications literally make people money, they are unable to do their jobs and get paid if they can’t get them.

aida_568ab5040fe17 profile image
Aida • Edited

This is so unfortunate that we have been advising our customers that we build apps to go for this technology because we thought Apple was inverting to support also recently with push notifications and now they just pull out of everything with no warning ‼️
It’s such a bad intention from Apple that they want to stay in the way of technology innovation unless it’s their own. Apple in my opinion is becoming a company with no social responsibility taken. Therefore I would urge Apple to allocate their efforts to further support PWA otherwise they will be stamped as a company with no social responsibility and being in the way of technological innovations. It will be stamped as manipulative and a company that is limiting rather than enabling.

olierxleben profile image
Oliver Erxleben

While I agree with the debatable reasons, there is one thing true that Apple said: it will only impact a very small user base. For example I have a big social circle with Apple users and nobody - really nobody - is using the Home Screen web app feature, because there is already "an App for that" and there is this single source of shopping stuff digital: The App Store. Why anyone would even consider?

on macOS, I have tried Slack, Discord etc using the "add to Dock" feature. While many things work, the support for it and user experience varies very much. While seems to work, Slack on the other hand does not automatically updates the UI and I need to reload the "App" periodically. Something a user would not expect speaking in terms of Apps, not websites. Imho there is no level of minimal standard a user can expect but with - often debatable - review processes one can accomplish this more than without. I had hoped Apple would integrate PWAs into their App Ecosystem and make them available on the App Store, too. With all the fees and taxe, but with safely providing a minimal set of quality to ensure things will work as expected.

My thoughts on that topic as a Web Developer using mostly Angular, React & Firebase.

janmpeterka profile image
Jan Peterka

Well, Apple did a "good job" in making it as diificult as possible to discover that this option exists.

In Chrome, you can easily inform user about the option, and make installing easier than going to store. In Apple, you cant. Also, as a user, you don't have any idea if you are adding bookmark or PWA (on Android you see either "Add to homescreen" or "Install", depending on whether the page has PWA).

And at the same time, Apple didn't (and still doesn't) support many PWA features, so PWAs on iOS are less usefull than what they can be (no experience with macOS, so I don't know if it's the same, but I expect it will be at least through Safari).

ruicraveiro profile image
Rui Craveiro

Unless your social circle is big enough to become statistically significant, and representative of all regions and use cases, it is hardly scientific evidence.

I, for one, use PWAs of apps that don't exist in the store (for example aviation apps like Autorouter for IFR flight planning and Stratux, based on an open source project, which isn't even served from an internet server, but directly from a Raspberry-Pi box that I use to detect other aircraft). Moreover, I also publish Flutter applications to Line-of-Business users and they always get the PWA version faster. Indeed, these are niche applications, but how long is the long tail?

So, you may be right about there being an app for all mainstream use cases, but you are excluding the long tail.

miguelqueiroz profile image
Miguel Queiroz • Edited

Well there is an app for that because thats what the "tradition" is! You need an app for that, otherwise you are not on the market. The PWA was the solution! a single source code that would not require to publish in each of the app stores ( Android and Apple) a single point of fix bugs, and experience.

The only reason there is an app for that, is because the PWA does not exists, otherwise there was no need to have an "App for that"

Also the low adoption of iOS users because they dont even know what PWA is or means, because Apple never promoted.

A obviou example, when you navigate a webapp in android you are shown a popup to install the app in one click! and in iOS they never had that, you had to open the menu and add to Home screen! like a bookmark! Maybe people dont want "book marks" they felt it was not the same thing as an app. This was intentional!

brunogirin profile image
Bruno Girin

If you want to help, fill in the survey from the OWA to help guide the EU's response to this.

kasi1999999 profile image

Apple finally changed their mind in official release, so the PWA homescreen apps will be supported 1:

Why don’t users in the EU have access to Home Screen web apps?
UPDATE: Previously, Apple announced plans to remove the Home Screen web apps capability in the EU as part of our efforts to comply with the DMA. The need to remove the capability was informed by the complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps to support alternative browser engines that would require building a new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS.

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. This support means Home Screen web apps continue to be built directly on WebKit and its security architecture, and align with the security and privacy model for native apps on iOS.

 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.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel 🕵🏻‍♂️ Fayard

I love the hubris : we have so much power that we can choose whether and when and how we respect the law.

maksymiliansleziak profile image
Maksymilian Śleziak

You can't kill something that never lived.