Apple's Restriction on Web Apps Questioned by European Commission

By Thea Felicity

Feb 26, 2024 12:58 PM EST

(Photo : Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
Apple iPhone 15 series phones are displayed for sale at The Grove Apple retail store on release day in Los Angeles, California, on September 22, 2023.

Apple's recent decision to disable web apps on the Home Screen in the EU has caught the attention of the European Commission.

This move by Apple, which emerged following the release of the second beta version of iOS 17.4, limits the functionality of iOS web apps by preventing them from launching in their own top-level window on the Home Screen. 

Instead, they are reduced to simple shortcuts with the option to open within Safari. Critics argue that this change undermines the role of web apps as viable alternatives to native apps within iOS.

In response to concerns, EU competition regulators have begun investigating the impact of Apple's decision, sending inquiries to developers as a precursor to a potential in-depth probe. 

The European Commission has confirmed its scrutiny, stating that it is evaluating the compliance of all gatekeepers, including Apple, particularly focusing on the issue of progressive web apps.

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Apple's Response to EU Commission

Apple contends that it made these changes to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), citing concerns that third-party browsers used with web apps in Europe could pose security and privacy risks to users. 

The company believes that only a small number of users will be affected by these adjustments.

The possibility of a formal probe into web apps looms, potentially occurring after the March 6 deadline for Apple to comply with the DMA. However, further concessions from Apple could potentially prevent formal proceedings. 

This situation highlights the ongoing tension between tech giants and regulatory bodies regarding market practices and consumer protection. For Apple, it won't be the first as VCPost previously reported that the commission is set to fine the tech giant over music streaming violations.

READ MORE: Apple CEO Tim Cook Avoids Taiwan for Foxconn's 50th; COO Attends Instead

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