Apple Confirms iOS 17.4 Disables Home Screen Web Apps in the European Union

With the second beta of iOS 17.4, Apple disabled much of the functionality of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) in the European Union. There was some speculation that it could be a temporary change or a bug related to some of the updates to the app ecosystem in Europe, but Apple has confirmed that PWAs were intentionally removed and won't be returning.

iOS 17
In an update on the Developer website (via 9to5Mac), Apple explains that users in the EU will not have access to Home Screen web apps due to the support for alternative browser engines and the accompanying security risks and work required to implement a new solution.

According to Apple, ‌Home Screen‌ web apps are built on WebKit and its security architecture, and are designed to "align with the privacy and security model for native apps on iOS." Storage isolation and system prompts to access privacy functions on a per-site basis are crucial.

Without isolation, Apple claims that malicious web apps could read data from other web apps and gain access to a user's camera, microphone, and location without user consent. To fix these security issues, Apple would need to build a new integration architecture, which it says is not practical because of the other Digital Markets Act requirements and because ‌Home Screen‌ web apps aren't used by many people.

The iOS system has traditionally provided support for Home Screen web apps by building directly on WebKit and its security architecture. That integration means Home Screen web apps are managed to align with the security and privacy model for native apps on iOS, including isolation of storage and enforcement of system prompts to access privacy impacting capabilities on a per-site basis.

Without this type of isolation and enforcement, malicious web apps could read data from other web apps and recapture their permissions to gain access to a user's camera, microphone or location without a user's consent. Browsers also could install web apps on the system without a user's awareness and consent. 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. And so, to comply with the DMA's requirements, we had to remove the Home Screen web apps feature in the EU.

iPhone users in the European Union can access websites directly from the ‌Home Screen‌ through a bookmark, but PWA features won't be available. Web apps on the ‌Home Screen‌ will be forced to open in Safari (or another default browser) rather than in a dedicated window, there isn't support for long-term local storage, and notifications won't work.

Apple says that the changes are a direct result of DMA compliance, and will affect only a "small number of users." The company also says that it regrets the impact the change will have on developers of ‌Home Screen‌ web apps and ‌iPhone‌ users.

The update to ‌Home Screen‌ web apps comes alongside many other changes to the App Store in the European Union, with Apple allowing alternative app marketplaces, alternative payment methods, different browser engines, and more.

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
iOS 18 Calendar Feature

iOS 18: Calendar App Design Changes and Reminders Integration

Tuesday June 18, 2024 6:16 am PDT by
Apple in iOS 18 has given the Calendar app a major update, adding some welcome interface design changes, not to mention long-awaited integration with Reminders. In the month-by-month calendar view, the month now appears in large bold font in the top left, while the Events list toggle has been replaced by a new button that lets you choose between Compact, Stacked, Details, and List views. ...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...

Top Rated Comments

turbineseaplane Avatar
18 weeks ago
Petty and vindictive

Modern Apple in a nutshell
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nt5672 Avatar
18 weeks ago

Petty and vindictive

Modern Apple in a nutshell
Even if there is a little bit of truth in Apple's reasoning, it sure does not seem like Apple tried very hard and instead just opted for a slap in the face of users in the EU.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Apple Fan 2008 Avatar
18 weeks ago

Great move. Punish your customers for a legislation you don't agree with.

I don't use PWAs much. In fact I only had one installed for an web app from my home server. But I'm sure there are others who are going to be more disappointed. Possibly some SMB customers.
It's not them protesting legislation, it's them following legislation, this is what they had to do to comply with EU browser laws.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
3530025 Avatar
18 weeks ago

It's not them protesting legislation, it's them following legislation, this is what they had to do to comply with EU browser laws.
You can follow maliciously or you can follow while keeping the feature set full.

Apple could have easily implemented support for the PWAs capabilities for 3rd party browsers. They could have added additional API to have 3rd party browser display PWAs just like Safari/Webkit does now.

Apple choose not to. They intentionally choose to be anti-consumer.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Klae17 Avatar
18 weeks ago
oh no, its the consequences of the EU's actions....
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MilaM Avatar
18 weeks ago
Great move. Punish your customers for a legislation you don't agree with.

I don't use PWAs much. In fact I only had one installed for a web app from my home server. But I'm sure there are others who are going to be more disappointed. Possibly some SMB customers.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)