Developers who want to develop browsers for iOS with third-party engines can only test their apps on devices physically located in the EU, according to The Register.


This rule introduces a considerable barrier for developers outside the EU, who are now limited to using simulators instead of actual devices for testing their browsers. This restriction complicates the process of developing and supporting browsers with alternative engines, as on-device testing is essential to accurate performance assessment and troubleshooting. Apple’s previous policy, which remains in place in other regions around the world, demands the use of WebKit for all iOS and iPadOS browsers, effectively making every browser on these platforms a variant of Safari.

Under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple was designated as a gatekeeper in the European Union, compelling the company to make changes to its policies. With the release of iOS 17.4, Apple began allowing the use of alternative browser engines within the EU. However, it has now emerged that testing of browsers with third-party engines is strictly geofenced to the EU, potentially hindering the ability of developers around the world to address security issues or implement updates efficiently.

The requirements raise some practical concerns about the feasibility of supporting a separate EU browser. Some developers have pointed out that Apple’s extensive list of conditions makes it challenging to comply while also ensuring that the browser remains competitive and secure.

The European Commission has launched an investigation into Apple’s compliance with the DMA, focusing on the restrictive nature of its latest changes. The investigation seeks to determine whether Apple’s requirements are designed to circumvent the spirit of the DMA by making it difficult for competitors to operate on a level playing field.

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