Apple has made changes to its browser policy on the iOS platform in accordance with the European Union (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA). Although these innovations seem progressive at first glance, they have drawn strong criticism from Mozilla. According to company spokesman Damiano DeMonte, Apple’s new rules are more likely to create obstacles for developers than promote competition.
As part of DMA compliance, Apple has given browsers like Firefox the ability to use native engines on iOS. Despite the obvious appeal of this move, DeMonte expressed extreme disappointment with the results in an interview with The Verge. “While we are still reviewing the technical details, we are extremely disappointed with Apple’s plan to limit the use of BrowserEngineKit to EU-specific apps only“, he said.
DeMonte emphasized that this approach puts the burden on independent browsers, including Firefox, to develop and maintain two different browser implementations. This circumstance creates a double burden that Apple itself will not be exposed to.
With the release of the iOS 17.4 update, Apple has abolished the mandatory use of its own WebKit engine for browsers in the EU. This move opened the door to the use of other popular engines such as Blink (used in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge) and Gecko (Firefox engine). This allowed third-party browsers to function fully on iOS without the limitations associated with WebKit, but only in Europe.
Mozilla believes that applying these changes exclusively within the EU will make it difficult for browser developers to support different versions of their applications. “Apple’s offerings don’t really provide consumers with choice, but rather make it difficult to offer competitive alternatives to Safari“,” DeMonte remarked. He sees this as another example of Apple’s strategy of creating barriers to real browser competition on the iOS platform.
Mozilla isn’t the only one criticizing Apple’s new rules. Negative comments also come from other developers, including game streaming services and alternative app stores. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, described the new conditions as frightening and Spotify described them as a farce. Apple management is still waiting for the European Commission to approve the new App Store policy.