As part of a larger story about Apple’s plans to allow third-party app stores on iPhones and iPads in EU countries, BloombergMark Gurman claimed that Apple is also considering dropping its requirement for iPhone and iPad web browsers to use WebKit, the open-source browser engine that powers Safari.

Gurman said this potential change comes in response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act. It is unclear whether Apple will remove the requirement in other regions.

“Currently, third-party web browsers, including those such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google Chrome, are required to use WebKit, Apple’s Safari browsing engine,” Gurman wrote. “As part of the plan to comply with the new law, Apple is considering removing this mandate.”

Gurman did not provide any additional details or a possible timeline for Apple’s removal of this requirement, but the move would allow web browsers and in-app browsers on iPhone and iPad to use alternative browser engines such as Google’s Blink (used by Chrome and Microsoft Edge ) and Mozilla’s Quantum (used by Firefox). As a result, these browsers will no longer be tied to WebKit’s features and development schedule.

Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and other popular web browsers like Opera and DuckDuckGo are all currently forced to use WebKit on iOS, resulting in limited differentiation with Safari. Apple has previously stated that the WebKit requirement is enforced primarily due to security and privacy considerations, but some consider this policy anti-competitive.

Earlier this year, a group of software engineers from the UK and other countries said Apple’s ban on non-WebKit browsers on iOS is “deeply anti-competitive” and encouraged the company to lift the restriction. The group also complained that Safari has some features unavailable to third-party web browsers on iOS that use WebKit.

Gurman’s report also said Apple is not currently considering adopting the RCS standard alongside iMessage, and said the company is working to provide third-party apps with limited access to the iPhone’s NFC chip, but he did not elaborate.


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