iOS 17.4 pulls web apps from Home Screen in the EU: Apple confirms

DMA regulations in EU make it mandatory for all web browsers to have equal treatment
An undated image displaying iPhones home screen. — Apple
An undated image displaying iPhone's home screen. — Apple

It's a known fact that Apple introduced a spate of changes to the App Store and iPhone in the European Union with the iOS 17.4, including the formation of third-party app marketplaces support for alternative browser engines.

However, another noteworthy adjustment installed for the user interface in iOS 17.4 update is that it removes support for Home Screen web apps in the EU.

Why iOS 17 update removes Home Screen web apps

The tech giant says that the decision to dislodge web apps from Home Screen was not driven by any error, but because of the requirements of the Digital Markets Act.

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Apple says that this decision “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.”

In the past week, iPhone users in the EU observed that they were unable to install and use web apps on their iPhone's Home Screen in iOS 17.4. Apple has introduced several enhancements over time to better accommodate progressive web apps on the iPhone. For instance, iOS 16.4 enabled PWAs to send push notifications with icon badges.

One of the modifications in iOS 17.4 is that the iPhone now permits alternative browser engines in the EU. This allows companies to develop browsers that do not rely on Apple's WebKit engine for the first time. Apple states that this change, mandated by the Digital Markets Act, is the reason it has been compelled to discontinue Home Screen web app support in the European Union.

Apple explains that it would have to build an “entirely new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS” to address the “complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps using alternative browser engines.”

“EU users will be able to continue accessing websites directly from their Home Screen through a bookmark with minimal impact to their functionality,” Apple stated in an official statement.

The DMA makes it mandatory for all web browsers to have equal treatment, which means that Apple cannot favour Safari and WebKit over third-party browser engines.

iOS 17.4 release date

iOS 17.4 is currently accessible for developers and public beta testers, with a full-scale release planned for early March.