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Browsers like Chrome and Firefox can abandon WebKit in EU with iOS 17.4

Alternate browser choices

EU regulations in the Digital Markets Act have forced Apple to allow full versions of third-party browsers on iPhone, and Apple isn't happy.

Safari runs on Apple's WebKit engine, and other browsers on iPhone have been required to use WebKit until now, at least in the EU. Starting in iOS 17.4, users will be prompted with the ability to set up a default third-party web browser upon launching Safari.

The change arrives alongside many other sweeping changes enacted by the Digital Markets Act. It forces Apple to change how the App Store and commerce works in the EU.

Besides side loading and alternative app stores, Apple snuck in another change required by the DMA — alternative browsers and engines. Chrome can now use Chromium, for example.

When users first launch Safari while running iOS 17.4 in the EU, they will be presented with the option to change to a different default browser. Apple's messaging on this change was clearly negative.

This change is a result of the DMA's requirements, and means that EU users will be confronted with a list of default browsers before they have the opportunity to understand the options available to them. The screen also interrupts EU users' experience the first time they open Safari intending to navigate to a webpage.

Any browser available in the App Store may appear as an option. Updates with the new web engines will likely come as soon as the developers can implement the change.