Open Web Advocacy Group Battles Apple’s WebKit-Based Walled Garden


The Register covered this group this week: a group made up of programmers who have formed a group called Open Web Advocacy “to help online apps compete with native apps by encouraging Apple to relax its iOS browser restrictions.”

This group (OWA), led by developers from the UK’s Stuart Langridge, Bruce Lawson, and others, seeks to create a more transparent web by providing technical details to lawmakers , and to assist them in understanding the anti-competitive nature that is inherent to web technology. In the last few months, the group has been in contact with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to convince them of the fact that the Apple iOS browser policy is a hindrance to competition.

Alongside the website, the OWA will release the technical paper “Bringing Competition to Walled Gardens,” which provides a summary of the group’s position. It will help authorities in the UK and around the world be aware of the implications of web technology limitations.

The group is seeking other developers with similar interests to join its cause. The most important issue expressed by Langridge and Lawson is the fact that the Apple iOS App Store Guidelines require every browser that runs on iPhones or iPads to use WebKit, an open source project run by Apple that acts in the role of rendering the engines used by Apple’s Safari browser.

” Apple users are now being urged to contact regulators and legislators in other jurisdictions to demand Apple end its restrictions around WebKit,” says MacRumors, “although such a move could result in the possibility of separating apps from the web, an actual possibility, and that’s an option Apple is also not willing to let.”

Reuters announced this morning that Apple has sent a letter to U.S. legislators “challenging claims that Apple’s concerns about sideloading apps on phones are exaggerated.” Reuters mentions that Congress is considering a bill that would restrict Apple’s app stores, along with Alphabet’s Google and Google, so that sideloading is required. Apple has claimed that such a move would be a security risk because it maintains strict control over the apps available in the store to protect users.

However, OWA coordinator Bruce Lawson tells the Register that, as of currently, “at the moment, every browser on iOS, whether it be badged Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, is actually just a skinned version of Safari, which lags behind other browsers due to its lack of competition on iOS.”

It was also funny when the Register called Apple to ask for a response on their reasons for being against App Store rules modifications:

We were astonished when, after receiving no response for months After months of no response, an Apple spokesperson contacted us, asking if the company would communicate off-the-record. We responded that we’d be more than happy to speak off-the-record, but did not hear back.

If we did, then we could not claim.

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