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Apple has issued a statement "Update on apps distributed in the European Union" regarding the support of "Home Screen web apps", which is their term for PWA's. It's essentially saying that Apple devices will not support PWA's on iOS, from version 17.4 (released in March of 2024), in the EU. Apple is stripping away core PWA features, including access to system APIs and offline capabilities.

In their statement, they mostly refer to "iPhone" and "iOS" hardware, with regard to the "Home Screen web apps". iPadOS and other variants are only mentioned in combination with Apple's payments program and the app store, which is a concept foreign to PWA's.

Specifically, I do not own an Apple device nor have started down the registered developer path for iOS/iPadOS/macOS apps which is why I am working on a PWA instead of Apple distribution and development tooling.

Can it reasonably be assumed, that the EU/DMA-related changes will spare iPad and Macintosh hardware?

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  • Questions about what Apple [did|does|thinks|might do] are off-topic, so don't be surprised about votes to put this on hold. Let's see whether somebody has a fact-based answer already now (before 17.4 is released).
    – nohillside
    Commented Feb 18 at 19:43
  • It certainly won't affect Macs, because you can already use non-WebKit browsers, and Macs aren't as locked down as Phones.
    – benwiggy
    Commented Feb 18 at 19:50

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Apple has been very clear that the European Commission - Digital Market Act only is regulating and mandating changes on iOS. I would not worry about iPadOS or macOS unless the EC pre-announces investigations into them as markets. That typically happens about three years before any rules are published or take effect.

The Apple Core platform services that the EC has deemed gatekeepers are three items:

The discussion on iOS 17.4 changing PWA and Home Screen apps in the developer FAQ seems reasonable to me if Apple can’t justify building a new isolation area to support any other browser in addition to Safari and WebKit. The timing however, is suspicious so perhaps they plan to fix that down the road or found a showstopper vulnerability right at the last minute and just wont’t say anything else now (and take the lumps they know they will get on this short term)?

Why don't users in the EU have access to Home Screen web apps?
The iOS system has traditionally provided support for Home Screen web apps by building directly on WebKit and its security architecture. That integration means Home Screen web apps are managed to align with the security and privacy model for native apps on iOS, including isolation of storage and enforcement of system prompts to access privacy impacting capabilities on a per-site basis.
Browsers also could install web apps on the system without a user’s awareness and consent. Addressing the complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps using alternative browser engines would require building an entirely new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS and was not practical to undertake given the other demands of the DMA and the very low user adoption of Home Screen web apps. And so, to comply with the DMA’s requirements, we had to remove the Home Screen web apps feature in the EU.

Setting aside the iOS actions Apple has taken, for your primary question, macOS seems very safe from this change vector. I wouldn’t see iPadOS change unless Apple saw a benefit or was mandated to grant more access to multiple browsers there as well. I’ve long respected Michael Tsai and Manson Reese and they seem sceptical about the timing of this.

It will be interesting this spring to see how this one part of the drama surrounding DMA unfolds as everyone sees what ships and understands if it’s a non-event to open PWA in chosen browsers or if there’s a real loss for some subset of Apple customers or what changes developers make once they new balance of what’s possible and what’s aligned with their interests, the EC interests and Apple’s interests. Even the summary paragraph of the link above is unclear and seems contradictory to me since it calls for new API for third party browsers and PWA but also says things will clearly still work:

To be clear, web apps will still work in the E.U. because, well, they are websites.

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