Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports.

webkit vs chromium feature
The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process.

Apple's ‌App Store‌ rules dictate that browser apps on iOS and iPadOS must use its own WebKit browser engine. This means that while browsers like Chrome and Microsoft Edge are built with Chromium on macOS and Windows, their iOS counterparts are forced to use Apple's WebKit, making them behave similarly to Safari.

Based on the visible code commits, the app purportedly looks like the start of an alternate browser build and is still missing some key features at this early stage. Google claims that the app is merely "an experimental prototype [...] with the goal to understand certain aspects of performance on iOS," and "it will not be available to users and we'll continue to abide by Apple's policies."

Even so, Google's experimental iOS browser project could be a sign that the company is anticipating changes to Apple's platform rules that would enable it to release a truly home-grown browser. Apple's browser engine restriction is the subject of growing antitrust scrutiny, most recently by the Biden administration, which has recommended the passing of new legislation to ban "gatekeeper" companies like Apple from banning alternative browser engines on its platform.

Similar recommendations have been made by antitrust authorities in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. The European Union's Digital Markets Act is expected to compel Apple to allow third-party app stores and lift its browser engine restrictions as soon as next year. At minimum, the active project means Google would have a considerable head-start on developing a Blink-based browser for iOS if one is able to be distributed in the future.

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Top Rated Comments

steve62388 Avatar
19 months ago

Clearly a sign of the coming changes probably with iOS 17.

My opinion is that this requirement by Apple was not worth it from the start, competition benefits us customers.
Ironically your wish for more competition will likely result in a lot less. Chromium based browsers will utterly dominate. And having one company able to dictate web standards is not a good idea.
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
IMPOSSIBLEMAN Avatar
19 months ago
Clearly a sign of the coming changes probably with iOS 17.

My opinion is that this requirement by Apple was not worth it from the start, competition benefits us customers.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
one more Avatar
19 months ago
No drama, Google are just probably preparing ahead for Apple’s restrictions being lifted:

https://www.macrumors.com/2023/02/03/biden-report-recommends-apple-ecosystem-changes/

Essentially, if these changes are implemented, it would make iOS more macOS like, giving users more choice & freedom. Security could be an issue, but hey, we can choose what works best for us and Apple could still put warning pop-ups.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
noone Avatar
19 months ago
Everyone here is all "Yeah! It's about time! We need other options besides Safari/Webkit."

Does anyone actually care? Never once have I thought to myself: "Gee, I wish I could use a Chromium browser on here." Safari works just fine for everything I've ever needed it to and I suspect that's true for 99.9% of others as well.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bobbie424242 Avatar
19 months ago
Can wait for real Firefox on iOS.
Competition is good.
iOS being limited to Safari's web engine is lame.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
NEPOBABY Avatar
19 months ago
TLDR

Will use 90% CPU, hog all the ram and be full of “web3” scams that steal money from marks and rubes.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)