Notifications for EU users on iOS

Last year, we introduced support for Notifications in the chat. At the bottom of our Notifications documentation, we include instructions on the hoops steps you must take in order to get this working on iOS. Users who have done this have been able to receive notifications on their iPhone or iPad even if they aren’t in the chatroom.

Unfortunately, the next version of iOS (17.4) will break this functionality for users in the European Union, as Apple states that, due to EU laws and a lack of time, websites added via “Add to Home Screen” (also known as Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs) will no longer function in the EU, and will be removed from impacted user’s devices.

Many other browsers, including Safari on Mac, support web notifications without the need to install the website as a PWA. Web notifications are an open standard and a common part of the Internet today, and it is very disappointing that Apple chose to limit this to installed PWAs, and are now killing PWAs altogether, with no alternative way for EU users to get notified on their iPhone or iPad.

If Apple ever adds support for web notifications in the standard version of Safari, this will automatically work with the chatroom, as we’ve already done the work to get this working on iOS. Until and unless that happens, there will be no way for EU users to get notifications on their iPhone. We apologize on Apple’s behalf to affected users.

More articles about this: Apple confirms iOS 17.4 removes Home Screen web apps in the EU, here’s why - 9to5Mac & Apple on course to break all Web Apps in EU within 20 days - Open Web Advocacy

For those who want a summary:

  1. Apple allows websites to provide an installable version of their website/app (Progressive Web Apps / PWAs), and get more features (including Notifications) than the sandboxed Safari browser.

  2. The European Union has ruled that it’s not fair that Safari is the only app on the iPhone that can install these PWAs, and they are demanding Apple make it equal for everyone.

  3. Rather than cede control and power to other apps, Apple is disabling PWAs in Safari, so no app can install them. This technically satisfies the requirement of making it equal, without Apple needing to give more power to people who work on websites/apps that exist outside of their tightly-guarded App Store.

Very disappointing, and, as stated above, a lot of the pain points of this could be avoided if Safari supported standards like web notifications, out of the box. :-1:

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Apple has decided to reverse course, and notifications for EU users will continue to work :tada:

Previously, Apple announced plans to remove the Home Screen web apps capability in the EU as part of our efforts to comply with the DMA. The need to remove the capability was informed by the complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps to support alternative browser engines that would require building a new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS.

We have received requests to continue to offer support for Home Screen web apps in iOS, therefore we will continue to offer the existing Home Screen web apps capability in the EU. This support means Home Screen web apps continue to be built directly on WebKit and its security architecture, and align with the security and privacy model for native apps on iOS.

Developers and users who may have been impacted by the removal of Home Screen web apps in the beta release of iOS in the EU can expect the return of the existing functionality for Home Screen web apps with the availability of iOS 17.4 in early March.

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