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iOS 17.4 Beta Sparks EU Web App Controversy

 |  February 27, 2024

Apple’s unveiling of the second beta version of iOS 17.4 has ignited a firestorm of debate surrounding the treatment of web apps within the European Union (EU). The focal point of contention lies in a significant alteration: web apps are now constrained from launching independently from the Home Screen in their own top-level window. Instead, they are relegated to mere shortcuts with an option to open within Safari.

This modification has drawn swift criticism from various quarters, with many asserting that it deals a severe blow to the potential of web apps as credible alternatives to native iOS applications. In response to mounting concerns, EU competition regulators have taken proactive measures. According to reports from The Financial Times, inquiries have been dispatched to developers to gauge the repercussions of this adjustment. This preliminary action is perceived as a potential precursor to a more extensive investigation.

Moreover, the European Commission has formally acknowledged its scrutiny of the matter, signaling the possibility of regulatory intervention. A spokesperson for the Commission elucidated, “We are indeed looking at the compliance packages of all gatekeepers, including Apple. In that context, we’re in particular looking into the issue of progressive web apps, and can confirm sending the requests for information to Apple and to app developers, who can provide useful information for our assessment.”

Read more: Apple Denies EU Competition Law Violation Ahead of Fine Decision

Apple, on its part, contends that these changes were imperative to adhere to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The tech giant asserts that permitting third-party browsers to interact with web apps in Europe could potentially expose users to security and privacy risks. Consequently, adjustments were deemed necessary to mitigate these concerns, as reported by MacRumors.

The debate surrounding the treatment of web apps within the iOS ecosystem reflects broader tensions between tech companies and regulators regarding competition, privacy, and user choice. As the discourse continues to evolve, stakeholders eagerly await further developments and potential resolutions to the ongoing dispute.

Source: FT