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. bruh said on August 18, 2023 at 1:25 pm

    Uhh, this has already been possible – I am not sure how but remember my brother telling me about it. I’m not a whatsapp user so not sure of the specifics, but something about sending the image as a file and somehow bypassing the default compression settings that are applied to inbound photos.

    He has also used this to share movies to whatsapp groups, and files 1Gb+.

    Like I said, I never used whatsapp, but I know 100% this isn’t a “brand new feature”, my brother literally showed me him doing it, like… 5 months ago?

  2. 💥 said on August 18, 2023 at 3:55 pm

    Martin, what happened to those: 12 Comments ( Is there a specific justifiable reason why they were deleted?

    Hmm, it looks like the gHacks website database is faulty, and not populating threads with their relevant cosponsoring posts.

  3. 45 RPM said on August 19, 2023 at 6:29 pm

    The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk that it’s about to be deleted from my ‘daily reads’.

    It’s really like “Press Release as re-written by some d*ck for clicks…poorly.” And the subjects are laughable. Can’t wait for “How to search for files on Windows”.

    1. owl said on August 20, 2023 at 12:51 am

      > The page on ghacks this is on represents the best of why it has become so worthless, fill of click-bait junk…

      Sadly, I have to agree.

      Only Martin and Ashwin are worth subscribing to.
      Especially Emre Çitak and Shaun are the worst ones.

      If intended “Clickbait”, it would mark the end of Ghacks Technology News.
      Ghacks doesn’t need crappy clickbaits. Clearly separate articles from newer authors (perhaps AIs and external sales person or external advertising man) as just “Advertisements”!

      We, the subscribers of Ghacks, urge Martin to make a decision.

  4. chessandonions said on August 20, 2023 at 12:40 am

    because nevermore wants to “monetize” on every aspect of human life…

  5. Frank Rizzo said on August 20, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    “Threads” is like the Walmart of Social Media.

  6. Ashray said on August 21, 2023 at 4:06 pm

    How hard can it be to clone a twitter version of that as well? They’re slow.

  7. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:16 pm

    Yes, why not mention how large the HD files can be?
    Why, not mention what version of WhatsApp is needed?
    These omissions make the article feel so bare. If not complete.

    1. Paul(us) said on August 21, 2023 at 5:18 pm

      Sorry posted on the wrong page.

  8. Marc said on August 21, 2023 at 6:00 pm

    such a long article for such a simple matter. Worthless article ! waste of time

  9. plusminus_ said on August 21, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    I already do this by attaching them via the ‘Document’ option.

  10. John G. said on August 21, 2023 at 11:43 pm

    I don’t know what’s going on here at Ghacks but it’s obvious that something is broken, comments are being mixed whatever the article, I am unable to find some of my later posts neither. :S

  11. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:28 pm

    Quoting the article,
    “As users gain popularity, the value of their tokens may increase, allowing investors to reap rewards.”

    Besides, beyond the thrill and privacy risks or not, the point is to know how you gain popularity, be it on social sites as everywhere in life. Is it by being authentic, by remaining faithful to ourselves or is it to have this particular skill which is to understand what a majority likes, just like politicians, those who’d deny to the maximum extent compatible with their ideological partnership, in order to grab as many of the voters they can?

    I see the very concept of this as unhealthy, propagating what is already an increasing flaw : the quest for fame. I won’t be the only one to count himself out, definitely.

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 23, 2023 at 2:34 pm

      @John G. is right : my comment was posted on [] and it appears there but as well here at []

      This has been lasting for several days. Fix it or at least provide some explanations if you don’t mind.

  12. Tom said on August 24, 2023 at 11:53 am

    > Google Chrome is following in Safari’s footsteps by introducing a new feature that allows users to move the Chrome address bar to the bottom of the screen, enhancing user accessibility and interaction.

    Firefox did this long before Safari.

  13. Mavoy said on September 16, 2023 at 2:17 pm

    Basically they’ll do anything except fair royalties.

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