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Mozilla Expresses Disappointment Over Apple's Changes to Browser Engine Rules in the EU

Apple's recent changes to its rules in the European Union (EU) regarding browser engines on iOS have elicited mixed reactions, with Mozilla expressing strong disappointment. The altered rules, set to be implemented in iOS 17.4, will permit browsers in the EU to use their own engines, such as Blink or Gecko, rather than being confined to Apple's WebKit engine. While this may seem like a positive move toward increased flexibility for third-party browsers, Mozilla argues that the proposal has significant drawbacks.

Mozilla spokesperson Damiano DeMonte conveyed the company's disappointment with Apple's plan to restrict the BrowserEngineKit to EU-specific apps. This restriction, according to DeMonte, would compel independent browsers like Firefox to build and maintain two separate browser implementations. The burden of maintaining dual implementations, as opposed to Apple's singular focus on Safari, is seen as a significant challenge for alternative browsers.

The removal of the WebKit constraint could indeed offer more options for third-party browsers, allowing them to function with their preferred engines without the limitations of WebKit. However, Mozilla contends that implementing these changes solely in the EU poses challenges for browsers in managing different versions. The decision to make the modifications region-specific raises concerns about providing competitive alternatives to Safari, and Mozilla sees it as Apple creating barriers to true browser competition on iOS.

Mozilla's sentiments align with broader criticism of Apple's updated rules, which extend beyond browsers to encompass game-streaming apps, alternative app stores, and sideloading. Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, referred to the new terms as a "horror show," emphasizing the concerns of developers. Spotify also joined in, characterizing the changes as a "farce." As of now, these rules await approval from the EU Commission.

The ongoing discussions and debates surrounding Apple's policies underscore the broader conversations in the tech industry about competition, app store regulations, and the power dynamics between platform providers and developers. Apple's evolving guidelines will likely face continued scrutiny and feedback as the industry grapples with the implications of such policies on innovation, competition, and user choice.


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