Telegram founder Pavel Durov has criticized Apple for limiting web developers on iOS and iPadOS. He’s not the first to attack Safari on iOS.
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Apple’s mobile browser has been criticized by many browser developers and manufacturers who cannot use their own engine due to limitations imposed by Apple. In case you didn’t know, browser apps on iOS are only allowed to use the WebKit engine.
This effectively cripples many browsers and prevents them from bringing their unique features to iOS. For example, Mozilla cannot support extensions in Firefox on iOS because it does not use the Gecko engine.
Web App Limitations in Safari for iOS
Durov shared a message on his Telegram channel describing other issues with Safari on iOS. He pointed out that Telegram’s web developers had recently released a list of issues with the iOS Safari browser. These are their reviews in a nutshell.
- No push notifications
- Touching a text field scrolls the page
- Context menu issues
- Random page reload
- No support for VP8 and VP9 codecs and WebM animated stickers
- No Opus audio support
- No shared job script
- Visual artifacts
- Lack of smooth scrolling
- Blur effects delay
You can read more about these issues on the instant messaging service. According to Durov, the only solution to these problems is to not use a web app and instead rely on a native app on iOS. Why is it a problem?
Apple doesn’t allow developers to publish their programs on the App Store for free, that’s fair enough. But if your app has in-app purchases, a 30% discount is needed. So for an IAP of $10, Apple would take $3. It might not seem like a lot, but it adds up. If an app raises $100,000 in subscriptions, it will have to pay Apple $30,000. That’s a huge commission, and Google is no different, although Google has reduced it to 15% for in-app subscriptions. This is why Epic Games sued Apple.
It’s also not good for users, as apps might charge higher fees to cut their own losses.
Last week Durov confirmed that Telegram Premium would be coming soon. While the free messaging app will retain all of its current features, the premium subscription will provide additional features including the ability to view very large documents, exclusive media and stickers, premium reactions, and more.
The subscription will likely be available through an in-app purchase, which on iOS will need to go through Apple’s gateway. This will undoubtedly result in a 30% commission that Telegram will have to pay to the Cupertino company.
Apple and Google are being scrutinized by regulators in the UK. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in the UK, is investigating the duopoly of browsers on their respective mobile ecosystems. That’s what the report has to say about Safari on iOS.
“Apple prohibits alternatives to its own browser engine on its mobile devices; a restriction that is unique to Apple. The CMA is concerned that this severely limits the potential of competing browsers to differentiate themselves from Safari (for example, on features such as speed and functionality) and limits Apple’s incentives to invest in its browser engine. This restriction also seriously hampers the ability of web applications – applications that run on a browser rather than having to be downloaded individually – depriving consumers and businesses of all the benefits of this innovative technology.”
Apple is also facing heat in the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will come into effect in the spring of 2023, will allow users to install iOS apps from third-party sources. This could potentially allow browser makers to implement their own engine in their application. By the way, the EU passed a new law that will force Apple to use USB Type-C charging ports on its devices. This is great news for users.