Telegram founder criticizes Apple for web app limitations on iOS

Jun 14, 2022

Telegram founder Pavel Durov has criticized Apple for limiting web developers on iOS and iPadOS. He isn't the first to lash out at Safari on iOS.

Telegram founder criticizes Apple for web app limitations in iOS

Apple's mobile browser has been slammed by many developers, and browser makers who are unable to use their own engine due to the limitations imposed by Apple. In case you aren't aware, browser apps on iOS are only allowed to use the WebKit engine.

This effectively cripples many browsers, and prevents them from bringing their unique features to iOS. For example, Mozilla cannot support extensions in Firefox on iOS, because it is not using the Gecko engine.

Web app limitations in Safari for iOS

Durov shared a message on his Telegram Channel outlining other problems with Safari on iOS. He pointed out that Telegram's Web developers had recently published a list of issues related to iOS' Safari browser. These are their criticisms in a nutshell.

  • No push notifications
  • Tapping a text field scrolls the page
  • Context menu issues
  • Random page reloading
  • No support for VP8 and VP9 codecs and WebM animated stickers
  • No Opus audio support
  • No shared worker scripts
  • Visual artifacts
  • Lack of smooth scrolling
  • Delay in blur effects

You can read more about these issues on the IM service. According to Durov, the only workaround for these problems is not to use web app, and instead rely on a native app on iOS. Why is that a problem?

Apple doesn't allow developers to publish their programs on the App Store for free, that's fair enough. But if your app has in-app purchases, it takes a 30% cut. So, for a $10 IAP, Apple would take $3. That may not sound like much, but it adds up. If an app raises $100,000 in subscriptions, it would need to pay Apple $30,000. That is a huge commission fee, and Google isn't any different, though the latter reduced it to 15% for in-app subscriptions. This is the reason why Epic Games sued Apple.

This is not good for users either, since apps could charge a higher fee to reduce their own losses.

Last week, Durov confirmed that Telegram Premium is coming soon. While the free tier messaging app will retain all its current features, the premium subscription will offer additional features including the ability to view extra-large documents, exclusive media and stickers, premium reactions, etc.

The subscription will likely be available via an in-app purchase, which on iOS will need to go through Apple's gateway. This will undoubtedly result in a 30% commission fee that Telegram will have to pay the Cupertino company.

Apple and Google are being scrutinized by regulators in the UK. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in the UK, is investigating the duopoly of the browsers on their respective mobile ecosystems. This is what the report has to say about Safari on iOS.

"Apple bans alternatives to its own browser engine on its mobile devices; a restriction that is unique to Apple. The CMA is concerned this severely limits the potential for rival browsers to differentiate themselves from Safari (for example, on features such as speed and functionality) and limits Apple’s incentives to invest in its browser engine. This restriction also seriously inhibits the capability of web apps – apps that run on a browser rather than having to be individually downloaded – depriving consumers and businesses of the full benefits of this innovative technology."

Apple is also facing the heat in the European Union, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will come into effect in Spring 2023, will allow users to install iOS apps from third-party sources. That could potentially allow browser makers to implement their own engine in their app. On a side note, the EU passed a new law that will force Apple to use USB Type-C charging ports on its devices. These are great news for users.

Telegram founder criticizes Apple for web app limitations in iOS
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Telegram founder criticizes Apple for web app limitations in iOS
Pavel Durov, the founder of Telegram, has criticized Apple for limiting web app functionality on iOS' Safari browser.
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  1. Geza said on June 16, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    Telegram blocks all major Russian news outlets, so that by itself is a proof of that he isn’t Putin’s man.

    BUT, until recently I was pretty happy with Telegram, but just about a week ago I noticed that it is doing something really suspicious while I am chatting (audio talking) with someone on Telegram: There is a significant outbound traffic going on even when neither my chat partner or I am talking.

    Before, when I was talking, I could see the same small amount of traffic leaving my PC or coming inbound when my friend was talking.

    But now, as soon I call my friend and he answers, a lot more data bytes are leaving my PC while I am either speaking or just listening, but while my friend is talking, the usual small data is coming in as it did in the past, but outbound traffic is huge at the same time, while in the past, there was no outbound traffic while I was listening and my friend was talking.

    So, basically I just stopped using Telegram for chat, use it only for reading and responding to messages on channels.

    I might consider getting a tablet PC just for Telegram, so that they can suck all available data (nothting) off of it if they want to., because I’ve lost trust in Telegram.

    1. Anonymous said on June 20, 2022 at 11:04 am

      Do you know how call works?!

      Telegram has many issues but this reason is funny.

  2. Anonymous said on June 14, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    It is a stupid rant by this guy. When you get Apple you get Apple and everyone knows Apple before getting it, if they do get Apple, why are they complaining about how close or how limited or anything about apple?

    Just look at Apple’s devices, their ecosystem, how they don’t care about costumer like when they changed CPUs and make older devices pretty much obsolete, or how they downgrade services and stuff, but they still want to make their little Apple land, with Tablets and Phones mostly as the ecosystem and Computer last.

    So… if you want to find power, why would you get Apple? look how easily Browser makers can release their browser on Android but some ‘big name’ browser companies still don’t have iOS version like Vivaldi. Look how quickly companies can support sync features but they either don’t exist or take a while to do it like happened with Brave and iOS and then we have features like installing from 3rd party stores, avoiding creating an account to use the device, install 3rd party OS and so on.
    People would say “well, it’s apple’s fault for restricting their devices” but that’s exactly my point! People already know how Apple is, so why you get Apple and then complain about it?

    It is pretty much ‘Android’ or nothing, if you want to live on Apple’s land, then you know the consequences but people don’t mention how they are ‘nice’ phones and run great, and they get updated often unlike Android. So, not everything is bad, but you have to agree to live on Apple terms.

    I mean, can you do anything with Telegram? do anything to the server? self host the servers? do anything with Telegram? no. Telegram has its own terms, like you can’t sign up on PC with a phone number anymore, so you have to be signed up on your phone to get it on PC.
    You don’t have a freedom to choose not to use your Phone number either. So, it’s like people complain but don’t look in the mirror how they set rules just as Apple, and they affect people somehow.
    Of course Apple being a full OS, affects more but that doesn’t change how Telegram does what they want just like Apple does.

    1. Anonymous said on June 20, 2022 at 11:03 am

      Do you know how call works?!

      Telegram has many issues but this reason is funny.

      1. Anonymous said on June 20, 2022 at 11:04 am

        I wanted to reply to below guy.

  3. boris said on June 14, 2022 at 9:06 pm

    This guy is a complete ass. He does everything that Putin wants.

    1. Anonymous said on June 15, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      You know that Purov had to sell his social media company and leave Russia because he didn’t hand over user data to the Russian Government. Afterwards he found Telegram.

    2. Vlad Leni said on June 14, 2022 at 9:30 pm

      I don’t even use Telegram anymore, but you are talking out of your butt, are you going to show proof? or should I just say shut up because you don’t know what you are talking about?

      I mean, do you even know Telegram users can’t send links to news like RT and all that, just like western companies trying to censor what people do and whatever people want to read.
      Are you saying that was Putin telling Durov to do it, to censor his own media?… see, you are just talking and don’t even know what you are saying.

      Are you also counting the fact he does whatever Germany and other government say? like people have to install the ‘standalone apk’ to be able to see many channels in Germany, even if they are not completely suspended. The guy does what Apple and Google says, because if not his app will get blocked.
      Are you going to say he is a German and Apple and Google muppet as well? why do you mention Putin even if there is no real proof about that? oh yeah… because you bought the western propaganda of “Russia bad, Western good”? Brainwashed much?

      Only because this guy is Russian doesn’t mean he does what Putin says, he doesn’t even live in Russia, his company VK was taken long time ago so he doesn’t have any obligation in Russian Federation, the only association would be that he was born there and that’s it.

      But go ahead, show proof or maybe it is time to stop making things up and just shut up. Stop watching mainstream media, it is actually damaging you.

  4. Yuliya said on June 14, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    It’s for your own security!!!1111eleven

  5. ilev said on June 14, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    “and browser makers who are unable to use their own engine due to the limitations imposed by Apple.”


    and browser makers who are unable to use their own engine due to security measures imposed by Apple.

    1. Tony said on June 14, 2022 at 11:09 pm

      Apple already allows spyware browsers in their OS. It’s not real secure.

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