EU may force Apple to allow competing browser engines on iOS

Why is it important: Apple currently requires all iOS web browsers to use WebKit, the engine behind the Safari browser. This policy is considered by many to be anti-competitive and could be the target of a future European Union Digital Markets Act.

Recently unpublished draft European Union legislation leaked. A new draft of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) adds language singling out web browser engines to protect against gatekeepers. This looks like a direct attack on Apple’s requirement that iOS browsers use their WebKit engine.

The legislation states that when a gatekeeper imposes a browser engine on developers, it effectively controls the functionality of the platform’s browsers and other applications built on the web software. If DMA goes into effect with this language, it could force Apple to allow alternative browser engines like Chromium. On PC, Chromium is the foundation for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, and many other browsers.

Developers are likely to celebrate the new regulation. At the beginning of this year, a development team was formed Open Web Advocacy, the main purpose of which is to cancel Apple’s requirements for WebKit. The group says forcing WebKit on developers is stifling innovation and threatening the entire future of app development.

Web browsers are not the only area where DMA attacks Apple policy. In March, the European Council and the European Parliament agreed on the wording of a law that would oblige platform owners such as Google and Apple to allow alternative payment methods and app downloads. Apple will certainly try to fight the legislation.

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