The new decisions taken by Apple in the European Union bring a new breath to the iOS operating system. Now independent browsers such as Firefox will be able to use their own engines on the iOS platform. However, according to the statements of Mozilla spokesman Damiano DeMonte, this situation disappointed the company. In his statement to The Verge, DeMonte expresses his discomfort with the restrictions of Apple’s BrowserEngineKit, which is designed for applications specific to the European Union. Mozilla’s concern is that this new regulation will cause independent browsers to develop and maintain two separate browser applications. This means a burden that Apple itself will not face.
With the iOS 17.4 update, Apple removes the obligation for browsers to use WebKit in the European Union. WebKit is the infrastructure engine that powers Apple’s own browser, Safari. This change opens the door to the Gecko engine used by Firefox, as well as other popular engines such as the Blink engine used by Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It also allows third-party browsers to become fully functional on iOS without the restrictions associated with WebKit.
Apple’s new rules and browser competition in the EU
Mozilla argues that implementing the changes only in the EU will make it more difficult for browsers to deal with different versions. “Apple’s proposals fail to provide real options for consumers, making it as painful as possible for others looking to offer competitive alternatives to Safari,” DeMonte adds. According to Mozilla, this is another example of Apple creating barriers to prevent real browser competition on iOS.
Mozilla is not the only developer criticizing Apple’s new rules. These new rules, which include issues such as game streaming apps, alternative app stores and sideloading, have been described as a “horror movie” by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, while Spotify calls the changes “nonsense.” Apple’s guidance is still awaiting approval by the European Union Commission.
These developments have had a great impact in the technology world. Although Apple’s strategy is a step towards complying with EU laws, it is likely to further intensify the competition between independent software developers and large technology companies. All eyes are on whether these decisions will pass the European Union Commission and their repercussions on the global market.