Apple browser ban

Mon Feb 07 2022

I have been a web developer for over 15 years and have experienced many difficulties in providing accessible and secure cross browser experiences in that time. Most of these difficulties have been due to incomplete/incompatible/missing APIs across the different browser engines, but there has always been hope that these hurdles can be overcome by healthy competition driving vendors to provide a better experience. Indeed the experience is so much better now than it has ever been due to more powerful and capable browsers, in large part thanks to competition - benefitting developers and users alike.

However, today, there remains one glaring exception to this healthy competitive landscape, and that is Apple's stance on browser engine choice on iOS. By mandating that all browsers make use of Apple's browser engine (Appleā€™s App Store rule 2.5.6) they have hobbled the user experience for many users, they have made users vulnerable to serious security issues as well as making web development more costly by effectively forcing us to develop and test against two environments (i.e. the web, and 'Apple's web'). I have no practical way to advise users to switch browsers on iOS because all the browsers use the same engine.

The web is supposed to be a great well of information and services that connects and enables users from anywhere, on any internet connected device, to access that information and interact with those services. By limiting browser choice on iOS, Apple is limiting what users can and cannot do on the web - and that is not their choice to make.

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