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A Turnaround on Web App Support

In a surprising pivot, Apple has announced it will not proceed with its previously stated plan to discontinue the support for the installation of progressive web apps on iPhones within the European Union. This decision comes after an update on a developer support page, which was first noticed by 9to5Mac. Apple indicated that it would "continue to offer the existing Home Screen web apps capability in the EU" as part of its upcoming iOS 17.4 release.

WebKit Remains the Core

Despite this reversal, Apple emphasized that Home Screen apps will continue to be developed using WebKit, the engine behind Safari. This delineation means that while third-party browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox can still be used, the web apps downloaded via these platforms will not utilize their respective engines. This clarification is in line with Apple's recent adjustments to support third-party browser engines in the EU, albeit with the existing framework.

Feedback Leads to Policy Reevaluation

Apple's initial announcement to eliminate iOS web apps in the EU had cited the Digital Markets Act (DMA) as a significant factor, mentioning the impracticality of developing "an entirely new integration architecture" under the DMA's requirements. However, following "requests" for the feature's continuation, Apple has decided to sustain the existing functionality for Home Screen web apps with iOS 17.4's rollout in early March.

This backtrack from Apple was met with relief among developers and users alike, many of whom had expressed concerns over the limitations that the original plan would impose on web apps, such as the inability to send push notifications and store data. The nonprofit Open Web Advocacy had even started a survey to assess the impact of Apple's decision on developers. Furthermore, the European Commission had begun scrutinizing Apple's move, highlighting the significant attention and potential regulatory implications the initial decision had garnered.

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