Browser Choice Must Matter
A multi-part examination of the ways that browser choice has been undermined on today's mobile OSes.
Apple's iOS browser (Safari) and engine (WebKit) are uniquely under-powered. Consistent delays in the delivery of important features ensure the web can never be a credible alternative to its proprietary tools and App Store. This is a bold assertion, and proving it requires examining the record from multiple directions.
Mobile OSes and their most successful apps have drained browser choice of meaning for more than a decade. This has lead to confusion for users and loss of control over data. Web developers, meanwhile, face higher costs and reduced ability to escape walled gardens. It's time for the charade to end.
A deep dive into the arguments offered by Apple and others to defend a lack of browser engine choice on iOS. Instead of raising the security floor, Apple has set a cap whilst breeding a monoculture that ensures all iOS browsers are vulnerable to identical attacks, no matter whose icon is on the home screen.
If you live or do business in the UK or the US, what you do in the next seven days could define the web for decades to come. By filing public comments with UK regulators and US legislators this week_ you can change the course of mobile computing more than at any other time in the past decade. Read on for why this moment matters and how to seize the day.
Apple has demonstrated shameless contempt in ignoring the spirit of pro-competition regulation. The web could serve as a counterbalance to this sort of gameplaying, but only if broad, effective, and widely adopted rules are put in place.
Some folks claim that Apple's mandated inadequacy for browsers and their engines is somehow beneficial to the cause of ensuring a diverse pool of web engines. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but to understand why, we need to understand how browsers are funded. With that understanding, we can see that not only has Apple has starved its own browser team of resources, but has done grevious damage to Mozilla along the way.
What's going on with WebKit is not 'normal'. At no time since 2007 has the codebase gotten this much love this quickly; but why? Time for a deep dive.
Under regulatory pressure, mobile OSes are opening up and adding features that will allow PWAs to disrupt app stores ... Yet with shockingly few exceptions, coverage accepts that the solution to crummy, extractive native app stores will be other native app stores. ... The press fails to mention the web as a sustitute for native apps, and fail to inform readers of its disruptive potential. Why?
Cupertino's attempt to scuttle Progressive Web Apps under cover of chaos is exactly what it appears to be: a shocking attempt to keep the web from ever emerging as a true threat to the App Store and blame regulators for Apple's own malicious choices. By hook or by crook, Apple's going to maintain its home screen advantage.