Web Push for Web Apps (finally) comes to iOS and iPadOS

Web push notifications on an Apple iPhone

We've all heard the story a gazillion times. In 2007 Steve Jobs didn't want app developers ruining the iPhone experience. So Apple shipped a mobile web browser instead, and the rest is history.

Well, kinda. That history included a hard pivot to native apps just over a year later, and to Apple paying out just over $60 billion to mobile app developers for each of the last two years. App store revenue seems to be peaking, though, hence Apple's latest move - embracing mobile web developers.

Today, Apple released iOS and iPadOS (when will these become the same OS?) 16.4 beta 1 and - surprisingly to some - it includes support for Web Push and new features for Home Screen web apps.

Apple have pitched web apps as something they've always supported, pointing to users' ability to add any website to their Home Screen since the first iPhone. The reality, though, is subtly different. Web developers have arguably been second or third class citizens in the Apple ecosystem. Native app developers - generating as much revenue as they do for Apple - have enjoyed more extensibility and platform-native features.

In the latest release, Apple have also improved support for manifest files and fallback icons, in addition to new Web APIs for screen wake lock, screen orientation, and more.

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