A new group of developers wants to convince Apple to allow other browser engines on iOS
As many of you may probably know, Apple has been getting numerous accusations of anti-competitive behavior, from developers to antitrust regulators in the US and Europe. Now, 9to5Mac reports that a new group of developers is now challenging Cupertino with a project called “Open Web Advocacy”.
Apple gets yet another challenge from developers, this time on web browsers
The Open Web Advocacy project was created by a group of developers who want Apple to allow other browser engines on iOS, pretty much meaning that other browsers should have access to the same features available in the iOS version of Safari. Additionally, the project wants Apple to open up iOS to third-party browser engines. For those of you who don’t know, iOS uses something called the WebKit engine, and it powers Safari and all web content on iOS. Unlike macOS, apps running on iOS need to use WebKit as their browser engine. What this means is that, pretty much, every web browser or web app on your iPhone or iPad is just Safari with a skin on top.
The group wants to persuade Apple that other browser engines may be allowed on iOS, so developers will have more access to creating useful apps for the modern web. Bruce Lawson, one of the developers behind the project, says that right now, every browser on iOS (including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) is just “a branded skin of Safari”, and additionally, that Safari lags behind because it has no competition on iOS (via The Register).
Pretty much, in limiting apps to WebKit, developers don’t have access to some of the features that Safari has. For example, full-screen capabilities are quite limited in third-party browsers. Additionally, Apple restricts Apple Pay integration to Safari only. Web-based apps cannot run on full screen, and third-party browsers don’t have the option of adding a web app to the home screen.
Additionally, the developers from the group are complaining about the lack of Web NFC, as well as other APIs in the iOS WebKit.
The group, being based in the United Kingdom, is aiming to take those concerns to the UK Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), and persuade regulators to make Apple change its policies.
This is far from the first time that Apple has been criticized by lawmakers
The most recent case that we reported on comes again from CMA, but this time, the Netherlands one.
A new antitrust fine was ordered by the Netherlands in regards to Apple’s payment technology and dating apps. The fine issued amounted to €5 million, and so far Apple has been fined €25 million (which could reportedly go as high as a total of €50 million). The competition authority has accused Cupertino of continuously throwing barriers rather than offering solutions.
The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) had issued a statement that Apple had not provided any new proposals that would help it comply with the ACM’s requirements, and therefore it had to pay a fifth penalty payment.
The Dutch regulator statement also said that Apple’s attitude is “regrettable, especially so since ACM’s requirements were upheld in court on December 24”, and it underlines that what Apple had provided as solutions were creating too many barriers for dating app developers, who have their own payment systems that they want to use.
The statement continued on to say that Apple is a company with a dominant position in the market and as such, it has extra responsibilities to buyers and society.
Then, Apple responded to this fine by sending a letter, explaining that it does comply with Dutch law. This legal argument is ongoing right now.