‘Open Web Advocacy’ Group Wants Fewer iOS Browser Restrictions

Safari WebKit

A group of software engineers have launched Open Web Advocacy. The goal is to challenge Apple’s ban of third party browsers on iOS and encourage the adoption of web apps (via The Register).

Open Web Advocacy

Here are the group’s top three priorities:

  1. Apple Browser Ban. Apple’s ban of third party browsers on iOS is deeply anti-competitive, starves the Safari/WebKit team of funding and has stalled innovation for the past 10 years and prevented Web Apps from taking off on mobile.
  2. Deep System Integration. Web Apps need to become just Apps. Apps built with the free and open web need equal treatment and integration. Closed and heavily taxed proprietary ecosystems should not receive any preference.
  3. Web App Equality. All artifical barriers placed by gatekeepers must be removed. Web Apps if allowed can offer equivalent functionality with greater privacy and security for demanding use-cases.

OWA has released a PDF called Bringing Competition to Walled Gardens that provides more detail of the group’s beliefs. One of the organizers, developer Bruce Lawson, spoke to The Register:

The motive of the group is to try to persuade Apple that they need to allow other browser engines on iOS, so the iOS can be a better platform for developing stuff for the modern web. Because at the moment, every browser on iOS, whether it be badged Chrome, Firefox or Edge is actually just a branded skin of Safari, which lags behind [other browsers] because it has no competition on iOS.

Apple restricts web browsers on iOS. All third party browsers have to use WebKit, the open source rendering engine used in Safari. Safari has features that other mobile browsers don’t such as full screen videos, full screen games, web app installation, Apple Pay, extensions, and in-app browsers. iOS WebKit browsers are also missing over 30 APIs.

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Deep system integration? Have we learned nothing from Microsoft deeply integrating Explorer?