The UK’s Open Web Advocacy (OWA) group wants to make it feasible for online web applications to compete with native system applications from Apple.

OWA consists of software developers advocating for openness in web technology. The group advises members of parliament and regulators in the United Kingdom. The goal is to create awareness of web apps’ difficulties when competing with OS-native apps from Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

WebKit limits functionality of alternative browsers

The OWA is particularly focused on opening up the restrictions that Apple imposes on browsers in iOS. The advocacy group states that Chrome, Edge and Firefox for iOS are not much more than branded versions of Apple Safari. OWA bases its views on the conditions that Apple’s App Store Guidelines place on other vendors’ browsers. The guideline states that any browser running on an iPhone or iPad must be based on WebKit. WebKit is an Apple-controlled open source project functioning as a rendering engine for Safari.

According to OWA, the mandatory use of WebKit prevents alternative browsers from providing all of Safari’s functionality. Alternative browsers cannot install web apps: only Safari can. Furthermore, only Safari can install browser extensions such as ad blockers within iOS. Apple Pay integrations with other browsers are limited, and links within applications are always forced to open in Safari.