Your web applications will act like real iPhone apps!

Your web applications will act like real iPhone apps!

By Valentina Tuta

Among the most anticipated updates in the iOS 16.4 beta, users are excited about the new performance of mobile web apps, as Apple is now committed to giving them a more native app-like look and feel. For this reason, we’ll be telling you all the details we know so far so you can be prepared. Let’s get started

More about web apps

To begin with, it should be noted that Safari web applications added to your home screen will now be able to request permission to receive automatic notifications. While as far back as the first iPhone you’ve been able to add a shortcut to websites to your homescreen represented as app-like icons, the web apps haven’t been able to send you notifications or show notification badges. 

However, with iOS and iPadOS 16.4 that will change. Likewise, according to the blog post by Brady Eidson and Jen Simmons, here’s how the push notifications will work:

“A web app that has been added to the Home Screen can request permission to receive push notifications as long as that request is in response to direct user interaction — such as tapping on a ‘subscribe’ button provided by the web app. iOS or iPadOS will prompt the user to give the web app permission to send notifications. The user can then manage those permissions per web app in Notifications Settings — just like any other app on iPhone and iPad. The notifications from web apps work exactly like notifications from other apps. They show on the Lock Screen, in Notification Center, and on a paired Apple Watch.”

Furthermore, the notifications would work just like native notifications, too, appearing in all areas where you’d expect to see them, like the Notification Center, Lock Screen and on a paired Apple Watch.

Focus mode and badge count

On the other hand, web apps will be able to set not just a notification badge count but also (and according to the blog) the notifications will support Focus modes too. But if it’s not enough, you’ll be happy to know that if you have multiple versions of a web app on your homescreen, they can have different settings, which might be useful to help separate personal and work use, for example.

Final thoughts

Certainly, automatic notifications linked to web browsers are not exactly a new technology. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how Apple adopts the feature now that it is under pressure not to “demonstrate anti-competitive behaviour”.

Moreover, these web push notification changes were actually promised quite a long time ago, as Apple first announced web push notifications were on the way back at WWDC 2022 in June. So basically, they were already late.

Finally, we can say that with this change, the company can point to web apps as an alternative to its App Store, claiming they have the same ability to target and reach iPhone and iPad users as native apps do.

Because, it’s not just Safari that’s getting some web app improvements: starting with iOS and iPadOS 16.4, you can save websites and apps from third-party browsers to your homescreen, too.


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