Rotten Apple

Jeremy Keith
4 min readFeb 17, 2024 launching fullscreen on iOS …soon to be impossible

This was originally published on my own site.

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act is being enforced and Apple aren’t happy about it.

Most of the discussion around this topic has centred on the requirement for Apple to provision alternative app stores. I don’t really care about that because I don’t really care about native apps. With one exception: I care about web browsers.

That’s the other part of the DMA that’s being enforced: Apple finally have to allow alternative browsing engines. Hallelujah!

Instead of graciously acknowledging that this is what’s best for users, Apple are throwing a tantrum.

First of all, they’re going to ringfence any compliance to users in the European Union. Expect some very interesting edge cases to emerge in a world where people don’t spent their entire lives in one country.

Secondly, Apple keep insisting that this will be very, very bad for security. You can read Apple’s announcement on being forced to comply but as you do you so, I’d like you to remember one thing: every nightmare scenario they describe for the security of users in the EU is exactly what currently happens on Macs everywhere in the world.

This includes risks from installing software from unknown developers that are not subject to the Apple Developer Program requirements, installing software that compromises system integrity with malware or other malicious code, the distribution of pirated software, exposure to illicit, objectionable, and harmful content due to lower content and moderation standards, and increased risks of scams, fraud, and abuse.

Users of macOS everywhere are currently exposed to all the risks that will supposedly overwhelm iOS users in the European Union. Weirdly, the sky hasn’t fallen.

It’s the same with web browsers. I just got a new Mac. It came with one browser pre-installed: Safari. It’s a good browser. But I also have the option of installing another browser, like Firefox (which I’ve done). A lot of people just use Safari. That’s good. That’s choice. Everyone wins.

Now Apple need to provide parity on iOS, at least for users in the EU. Again, Apple are decribing this coming scenario as an absolute security nightmare. But again, the conditions they’re describing are what already exist on macOS.

All Apple is being asked to do is offer than the same level of choice on mobile that everyone already enjoys on their computers. Rather than comply reasonably, Apple have found a way to throw their toys out of the pram.

As of the next update to iOS, users in the EU will no longer have homescreen apps. Those web apps will now launch in a browser window. Presumably they’ll also lose the ability to send push notifications: being a homescreen app was a prerequisite for that functionality.

This is a huge regression that only serves to harm and confuse users.

I have a website about traditional Irish music. Guess where a significant amount of the audience is based? That’s right: Ireland. In the European Union.

There is no native app for The Session, but you can install it on your phone nonetheless. Lots of people have done that. After a while they forget that they didn’t install it from an app store: it behaves just like any other app on their homescreen.

That’s all about to change. I’m going to get a lot of emails from confused users wondering why their app is broken, now opening in a regular browser window. And I won’t be able to do anything about it, other than to tell them to take it up with Apple.

Presumably Apple is hoping that users will direct their anger at the EU commission instead. They’re doing their best to claim that they’re being forced to make this change. That’s completely untrue. A lie:

This is emphatically not required by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). It’s a circumvention of both the spirit and the letter of the Act, and if the EU allows it, then the DMA will have failed in its aim to allow fair and effective browser and web app competition.

Throughout all their communications on this topic, Apple are sticking to their abuser logic:

Look what you made me do!

This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.

Apple’s petulant policy of malicious compliance is extremely maddening. What they’re about to do to users in the EU is just nasty.

This is a very dark time for the web.

I feel bad for the Safari team. They’ve been working really hard recently to make Safari a very competitive browser with great standards support with a quicker release cycle than we’ve seen before. Then it all gets completely torpedoed at the level of the operating system.

I really hope that Apple won’t get away with their plan to burn down web apps on iOS in the EU. But hope isn’t enough. We need to tell the EU commission how much damage this will do.

If you’ve ever built a web app, then your users will suffer. Remember, it’s a world wide web, including the European Union.

Create a PDF with the following information:

  • Your company’s name.
  • Your name.
  • That your company operates or services the EU.
  • How many users your service has in the EU (approximately).
  • The level of impact this will have on your business.
  • The problems this will cause your business.
  • Whether or not the submission is confidential.

The submission can be as short or long as you want. Send it to, ideally before Monday, February 19th.

I know that’s a lot to ask of you on your weekend, but this really matters for the future of the web.

At the very least, I encourage to get involved with the great work being done by the Open Web Advocacy group. They’re also on Discord.

Please don’t let Apple bully an entire continent of users.

This was originally published on my own site.



Jeremy Keith

A web developer and author living and working in Brighton, England. Everything I post on Medium is a copy — the originals are on my own website,