Apple Unlocks Full Potential of Chrome and Firefox on iPhones in EU

firefox ios

Apple has recently made significant changes in its web browser policies for iPhone users in the European Union. With the release of iOS 17.4, Apple is introducing the option for users to set their preferred default web browser and is opening up the iPhone to allow third-party browsers that use different web engines than Safari. This change, prompted by EU regulations under the Digital Markets Act, marks a significant shift in Apple’s approach to web browsing on the iPhone.

Key Highlights:

  • Apple’s iOS 17.4 update allows users in the EU to set third-party browsers as their default on iPhones.
  • Third-party browsers can now use their own web engines, breaking away from Apple’s mandatory use of WebKit.
  • This change is a direct result of the EU’s Digital Markets Act.
  • Browsers like Chrome and Firefox can now offer full versions with their respective engines, Blink and Gecko.
  • These policy changes currently apply only to iPhone users in the European Union.

firefox ios

The Shift in Default Browser Selection

With the introduction of iOS 17.4, users launching Safari for the first time will be prompted to set a default browser. This list includes popular third-party browsers like Microsoft Edge, Brave, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and DuckDuckGo. This feature enhances user choice and provides a more customized browsing experience.

Embracing Third-Party Web Engines

Until now, all browsers on iOS, including prominent ones like Chrome and Firefox, were required to use WebKit, the web engine behind Safari. However, with the new update, Chrome can use its own Blink engine, and Firefox can use its Gecko engine, enabling them to differentiate their features and potentially offer faster performance than Safari.

EU’s Influence on Apple’s Policy

These changes are a direct response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, aiming to create a more competitive and fair digital market. Apple’s decision to allow alternative browser engines and more flexibility in default browser settings aligns with the act’s requirements and reflects the growing antitrust pressure on the tech giant.

Impact on the Browser Ecosystem

This policy shift is expected to diversify the browser ecosystem on iPhones in the EU. With browsers now able to use their native engines, users can expect enhanced features, potentially faster performance, and a more diverse range of web applications. However, there are concerns about the impact on web development, with some fearing that developers might focus primarily on optimizing for Chrome.

Apple’s Preparation for Enhanced Competition

In anticipation of increased competition from third-party browsers, Apple is reportedly strengthening its WebKit team. This move suggests that Apple is preparing Safari to compete more effectively with these new entrants in the browser market.

In summary, Apple’s decision to allow full versions of browsers like Chrome and Firefox to run on the iPhone, along with the option to set them as default browsers, is a significant move for EU iPhone users. This change, driven by the Digital Markets Act, not only enhances user choice but also opens up the field for more competition and innovation in the browser market. While this policy is currently limited to the EU, it marks a notable shift in Apple’s approach to web browsing on its devices.

About the author

James

James Miller

Senior writer & Rumors Analyst, James is a postgraduate in biotechnology and has an immense interest in following technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. He is responsible for handling the office staff writers and providing them with the latest updates happenings in the world of technology. You can contact him at james@pc-tablet.com.