Last week, Apple released the first beta version of iOS 15.4 to developers and members of the public beta program. The update contains several new features, as well as hints at some changes to Safari. More specifically, Apple is finally working on push notifications for web apps in iOS. The company is also developing a WebXR API for its AR/VR headset.
As developer Maximiliano Firtman noted, the iOS 15.4 beta has new features that websites and web apps can use. One of them is support for universal custom icons. Now developers do not need to add special code for web application icons on iOS devices.
Safari on iOS has supported the Web App Manifest for four years now (since version 11.3 March 2018), but the icon declaration has always been ignored, says IT-Here. The lack of support has never been documented by Apple or WebKit, by the way. Because of this, many Progressive Web App installations on iOS were without suitable icons. It was necessary to add <link> with rel=apple-touch-icon to your HTML code, and not every developer did this.
However, the most significant changes are yet to come, and these are push notifications in web applications. Although Safari on macOS allows sites to display notifications to users when the site is in the background (sometimes even when the browser is closed), Apple hasn’t added the same feature to iOS.
Fortunately, this will change soon. As developer Firtman noted, iOS 15.4 beta has “Built-in Web Notifications” and “Push API” toggles in WebKit Experimental Features for Safari. Both options don’t work in the first beta yet, but they indicate that Apple will finally add push notifications for sites and web apps to iOS in the future.
Some developers have had to release their apps as iOS web apps (like xCloud) due to strict App Store rules. So changes in the system will definitely make using web applications on iPhone and iPad more convenient, NIX Solutions.
Interestingly, the iOS 15.4 beta also contains WebXR APIs, which provide support for augmented and virtual reality helmets on sites. By default, the APIs are disabled, but even if they are enabled, there are no AR/VR helmets that support iOS yet. According to rumors, by the end of this year, Apple will present its own mixed reality helmet. Perhaps the new APIs are designed just for it.
iOS 15.4 will be released publicly in the spring.