Apple’s Decision to Disable Web Apps Attracts Scrutiny in EU

The European Commission is considering investigating Apple’s move to disable Home Screen web apps in the EU, the Financial Times reports.

Following the release of the second beta version of iOS 17.4, it emerged that Apple had restricted the functionality of iOS web apps in the EU. Web apps can no longer launch from the ‌Home Screen‌ in their own top-level window that takes up the entire screen, relegating them to a simple shortcut with an option to open within Safari instead. Critics argue that the move undermines the role of web apps as viable alternatives to native apps in iOS.

EU competition regulators sent questions to developers last week to determine the impact of the change in what is apparently seen as a precursor to an in-depth probe. The European Commission confirmed its scrutiny to the Financial Times: 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.

Apple claims that it had to make the change to how web apps work in iOS to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), arguing that third-party browsers used with web apps in Europe could expose users to unlawful security and privacy risks. It believes that the adjustments will only affect a small number of users.

A potential probe into web apps could come after the March 6 deadline for Apple to comply with the DMA, but formal proceedings could be prevented if Apple makes further concessions.

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