EU is set to investigate Apple for banning PWA apps

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In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and competition law, the European Commission has announced its intention to launch an in-depth investigation into Apple Inc., examining whether the tech giant may be abusing its market dominance by restricting access to Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). This move comes as part of Europe’s ongoing efforts to ensure fairness and innovation within digital markets. The Financial Times has confirmed this report from the EU.

Apple PWA ban

Apple said it would ban PWAs in the European Union starting next month. This feature allows companies to create apps that can be accessed as web pages with just a button displayed on the phone’s desktop. Apple claims that the ban on PWA is to comply with the Digital Markets Act. This is because browsers other than Safari will expose users to security and privacy risks. Apple said that this move will only affect a small number of people. However, this move also cuts off the way for developers to avoid the 30% “Apple tax”.

After installing the iOS 17.4 Beta2 update, European Apple users can no longer launch PWA apps from the homepage and can only open them in Safari. Therefore, PWA apps are directly downgraded to pure website shortcuts. This change is serious and it affects the user experience and functionality of PWA applications. Critics say the move undermines web apps as a viable alternative to native iOS apps.

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Progressive Web Apps are web applications that can function like native mobile apps with features such as offline functionality, push notifications, and responsiveness across various devices. They offer users a seamless experience without requiring them to download separate software from app stores.

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Allegations Against Apple

The European Commission alleges that Apple imposes technical restrictions through its iOS operating system, preventing developers from distributing their PWAs via the App Store if they also provide standalone versions of those same apps. These limitations could potentially stifle innovation and limit consumer choice, thereby harming both developers and consumers alike.

Apple argues that these measures are necessary to maintain user privacy and security standards, but critics contend that this stance serves primarily to protect the company’s own interests rather than promoting the broader public good.

The EU competition watchdog last week questioned developers to determine the impact of the change, in what appeared to be a precursor to an in-depth investigation into Apple. The European Commission told the Financial Times:

We are indeed reviewing the compliance programs of all gatekeepers, including Apple. In this case, we are particularly concerned about the issue of Progressive Web Apps and confirm that we have sent information requests to Apple and app developers who could provide useful information for our assessment.

Impact on Developers and Consumers

If proven true, Apple’s alleged practices would have significant consequences for developers and consumers. For instance, developers might face challenges when trying to reach potential customers who prefer using PWAs over traditional apps due to data usage concerns or device storage constraints. Moreover, consumers could miss out on innovative solutions and services that PWAs might bring, ultimately limiting their choices and experiences.

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Apple’s Response

In its response, Apple said that it keeps to the laws of any regions in which it operates. It also said that it is willing to provide the EU investigators with any relevant information that they will need to help the process.


With the European Commission’s decision to probe Apple’s handling of PWAs, it becomes evident that regulators worldwide are increasingly vigilant about protecting consumer rights and fostering healthy competition among tech giants. As the investigation unfolds, we will gain further insights into how the European Commission intends to address the issue and what implications it holds for the future of digital markets.

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