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A Law Liberates Web on iOS: Is This Really a Big Win for WebGPU?

Exploring the far-reaching effects of the EU's landmark decision on iOS browser freedom and its potential impact on the future of WebGPU technology.

In a landmark decision, the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) has forced Apple to reconsider its long-standing policies surrounding iOS, Safari, and the App Store.

Starting from iOS 17.4, users will have the option to set a default browser other than Safari. More significantly, Apple will now permit the use of browsers based on engines other than WebKit, which has been the backbone of iOS web browsing.

WebGPU on iOS?

WebGPU, a cutting-edge technology, has made significant strides in the past year. It became available on Chrome and Edge for desktop users in 2023, marking a new era in high-performance graphics and compute capabilities on the web.

Recently, on January 17, 2024, Google released Chrome WebGPU for Android devices in version 121. Firefox has also announced its intention to support WebGPU, signaling widespread adoption of this technology.

With these developments, over half of web users now have access to WebGPU's powerful features.

However, Apple's Safari, a major player in the browser market, has yet to announce support for WebGPU. Historically, Safari has been slower in adopting new web technologies, and its involvement in the development of WebGPU has not translated into a swift implementation in the browser.


Prior to the EU's ruling, iOS users faced a major limitation: even if they installed different browsers like Chrome or Firefox, they were essentially using Safari under a different skin, due to the mandatory use of the WebKit engine.

The DMA ruling changes this landscape dramatically, requiring Apple to allow alternative browser engines on iOS.

This opens the door for browsers like Chrome to introduce their own engines, potentially bringing WebGPU support to iOS much sooner than expected.

However, this exciting development comes with a caveat: the DMA ruling applies only to the European market.

Users in other regions may have to wait longer to see similar changes on their iOS devices. Despite this, the ruling is a significant step towards greater browser diversity and technological innovation on Apple's platform.

The EU's DMA ruling marks a pivotal moment in the tech world, especially for iOS users.

By opening up the once-restricted iOS browser ecosystem, Apple is not only complying with new regulations but also paving the way for advanced technologies like WebGPU.

This could lead to a more competitive and diverse browser market, benefitting users globally in the long run. The future of web browsing on iOS just got a lot more interesting.


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