Push Notifications for iOS - Updated

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include a new statement from Apple.

In the wake of the current events, around the highly anticipated next iOS release, we feel the need to inform you about the ramifications it brings for Portrait and their users.

The big picture

The novel Digital Markets Act is a new regulation to break the dominance of a group of Gatekeepers in the digital economy sector. The EU identified several “core service platforms”, which need to comply to the regulation until 6th of March 2024. This also affects the Apple App Store and its surrounding technologies. In the midst of opening the platform according to the regulations requirements - which means allowing alternative App Store platforms on iOS - breaking changes will be introduced.

As far as we are concerned, this release will be heavily feature flagged to offer a different approach to App sales, distribution and payments (only) in the EU. Apple is expected to release iOS 17.4 ahead or on 6th of March 2024.

Over the course of this substantial changes, Apple claimed previously to drop the support of “Home Screen Web Apps”. In their latest statement, which can be read in the below linked article, “Home Screen Web Apps” will not be dropped. And be expected to work - on the WebKit engine.

What they are saying

Apple justified these restrictions with the introduction of allowing different browser engines, other than WebKit (MobileSafari). In the past, each “Home Screen web app” used the WebKit engine and its security concept, including isolation of storage, permissions and device access. However, Apple decided the efforts in supporting several underlying browser engines for Home Screen web apps are not justified.

Addressing the complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps using alternative browser engines would require building an entirely new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS and was not practical to undertake given the other demands of the DMA and the very low user adoption of Home Screen web apps.

Source: https://developer.apple.com/support/dma-and-apps-in-the-eu#distribution-eu

With the updated Apple statement, the following shall be quoted:

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.

By the look of it, no regression will happen.

What you can do about it

With the updated statement in place, you can use Push Notifications on iOS, following this article:

The bottom line

Apple introduced Notification support for Home Screen Web Apps just a year ago with iOS 16.4 and was about to cancel it with iOS 17.4, and blame it on the EU. An outcry in the developer world started the ball rolling, the EU commission started an investigation, and soon after Apple stepped back.

While this posse ends well for our users in the EU, we are curious what the DMA brings up and how Apple will, on other fronts, interpret a free market.

Go deeper

You can read about Apple’s considerations and decisions here in detail:
(Chapter: Why don't users in the EU have access to Home Screen web apps?)

Also, see the press release for a critical view on Apple's decision by the Open Web Advocacy:




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