Full fledged Chrome and Firefox will appear on the iPhone
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Full-fledged Chrome and Firefox will appear on the iPhone – Apple has approved alternative browser engines, but only in the EU

Apple hasn’t stopped at opening iOS to third-party app stores. The company will enable alternative browser engines to run on iOS for the first time. However, as with alternative app stores, only for users from the European Union.

Since the launch of the App Store, Apple has allowed the use of many browsers, but only one, its own engine, WebKit, which also powers Safari. Therefore, the developers of all third-party browsers for iOS had to transfer their software to this engine, even though they used their own on other platforms. For example, Google Chrome runs on the Chromium engine, which dominates the market and is also used in Edge, Brave, Arc, Opera and many other browsers. Mozilla’s Firefox runs on its own Gecko engine.

With the release of iOS 17.4 the situation will change – any developer of a browser or built-in browser for a specific application can use an engine other than WebKit. Any developer must get permission from Apple to change the engine, which requires:Meeting certain criteria and committing to a series of ongoing privacy and security measures” After that, it will have access to features like passkeys and multiprocessing. Apple will also add a new menu to Safari that will allow users to choose a different default browser when opening the browser for the first time.

Apparently, Apple is only doing this because it is required by the EU’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA), which, among other things, stipulates that users should be able to remove pre-installed apps – including web browsers – that redirect them “to” gatekeeper products and – Services.” In this case, iOS is the gatekeeper and WebKit and Safari are Apple products.

Even in its release announcing new features, Apple makes it clear that it is against the changes: “This change is a result of DMA requirements and means EU users will see a list of default browsers to choose from before they can understand what options are available to them” Apple’s argument for its products has always been that only the company itself can ensure a good, safe and positive user experience on the iPhone. Regulators don’t believe that.

Again, these changes only affect iPhone users in the EU. Apple says it will allow European users to browse without changing the browser engine, but it will ensure that only accounts of EU residents get these new engines. Elsewhere around the world, users will continue to get Chrome and everything else on WebKit. Apple claims (without much evidence or evidence) that these other engines pose security and performance risks and only WebKit is truly optimized and safe for iPhone users.

EU users are expected to see the updated browsers in the App Store as soon as iOS 17.4 is released in March: Google, for example, has been working on a version of Chrome for iOS without WebKit for at least a year. European users are facing a serious browser war on their iPhone.

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About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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