Telegram founder criticizes Apple for web app limitations on iOS
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.
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.Advertisement