Apple backs off killing web apps, but the fight continues! Read More

Open Letter to Tim Cook, Sabotaging Web Apps Is Indefensible

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Dear Tim Cook,

We write to express our concern at Apple’s decision to remove Web Apps (PWAs) from iOS and Safari in the European Union (EU), and to avail ourselves of our rights under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Apple points to Web Apps as the open alternative to the App Store, and actions to remove them have created deep concern in the web community. iOS demoting Web Apps to shortcuts threatens data loss and undermines the web as a reliable platform for iOS users. These silently-introduced changes threaten critical features including integration with iOS, push notifications, unread count badging, and the ability to run full screen. Their removal will break Web Apps for students, governments, health care institutions, journalists, and startups.

Entire categories of apps will no longer be viable on the web as a result. More troubling, we understand iOS will not include APIs for competing browsers to implement these features either. This will do vast, immediate, and ongoing harm to users, developers, and businesses, both inside and outside the EU.

Apple’s justifications gesture toward security and privacy, but are at best unfounded. Web Apps provide safe computing that puts users in control through their browsers, and iOS opening up to competing browser engines will enhance, rather than erode, security and privacy. Web Apps powered by competing browsers can be safer and more capable than today’s apps, and removing support cannot be justified on security grounds. Apple’s arguments regarding the safety of competing browsers have been conclusively rejected by regulators worldwide, and this situation is no different.

We, the undersigned “end users” and “business users”, avail ourselves of our rights under Articles 5 and 6 of the EU’s DMA. In particular, we assert our right under Article 6(7) ensuring businesses effective interoperability with the software features of the operating system.

Pursuant to these rights, Apple is obligated to preserve the functionality to allow Safari and other iOS browsers to add Web Apps to the home screen, allow them to run in top-level activities (not in tabs), integrate with iOS settings and permissions, enable Push Notifications and homescreen icon badging, and to run fullscreen.

Further, we assert that Apple’s proposed changes violate Article 13 of the DMA which prohibits anti-circumvention efforts by designated gatekeepers. Specifically, Article 13(6) which states:

6. The gatekeeper shall not degrade the conditions or quality of any of the core platform services provided to business users or end users who avail themselves of the rights or choices laid down in Articles 5, 6 and 7, or ...
EU Digital Markets Act, Article 13(6) (emphasis added)

It is still possible for Apple to reverse course and preserve essential functionality iOS users and developers have relied on since 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced Web Apps for the iPhone. Degrading these features in iOS and Safari is not required by the DMA. We encourage Apple to engage with all stakeholders urgently, transparently, and in good faith to restore and enhance these essential capabilities.

Preserving these features, making them available to competitors, and allowing browser choice worldwide is the only good-faith path forward, and we call on you to both comply with Apple’s legal obligations and to allow fair and effective competition on your platforms globally. Apple has the ability to compete on merit, rather than relying on lock-in and self-preferencing.


Thank you for your support!

The letter has now closed.

Thank you to the many thousands of invidivuals and organizations that signed the letter. We did it: Apple backed off killing web apps!

There is always more work to be done!

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