iPhone web apps to survive in iOS 17.4 after all

Apple is rolling back the controversial plan to disable iOS web apps in the EU, as part of a forthcoming software update.

Web apps are the icons you can save to your home screen in iOS in the absence of a native app from the App Store. They are effectively a bookmark for a Safari web page you can store for easy access.

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However, with iOS 17.4 bringing big changes for users in the European Union to meet new Digital Markets Act legislation, Apple was planning to disable web apps too.

However, the company said that requests and up to 500 complaints from the user base had resulted in the about-face, which will see web apps return to the operating system in time for iOS 17.4 to be released within the next week. They’ve only been gone from beta versions so users in the EU won’t notice a difference.

“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,” the company said (via FT).

“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.”

Interestingly, the EU has said it never wanted Apple to ditch web apps in the first place and complained about Apple’s efforts to characterise the move as such.

“Contrary to Apple’s public representation, the removal of Home Screen Web Apps on iOS in the EU was neither required, nor justified, under the Digital Markets Act,” a spokesperson for the European Commission said.

iOS 17.4 will bring other big changes just for those iPhone users in the European Union. Those include the ability to legally download a developer’s app from a third-party app store or website. Those marketplaces can even be set as the default store on the device.

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