What you need to know
- Web apps currently can't send notifications to iPhone and iPad users.
- Notifications are reserved for apps that are distributed via the App Store.
- iOS 15.4 suggests a new API will allow web apps to send notifications once a user gives the OK.
iOS 15.4 appears to suggest that Apple is working on adding support for push notifications for web apps but it isn't working just yet.
According to changes found in the first iOS 15.4 beta by developer Maximiliano Firtman and reported by 9to5Mac, Apple's iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 are laying the groundwork for giving web apps the opportunity to send notifications to iPhones and iPads by adding a new API.
Similar functionality already exists on the Mac, but it has so far not been supported by either iPhones or iPads. Currently, only apps downloaded via the App Store can send people notifications. That severely limits the abilities offered by web apps and means that developers must get their apps into the App Store if they want to send users notifications. However, that looks like it could be changing in the future.
As Firtman notes, however, testing the new API results in failure. When working properly, the API will present a permission dialog box to users asking if a website can indeed send them notifications. As of iOS 15.4 beta 1, that dialog isn't being presented which means the notifications are blocked. That will change in the future, of course.
Giving web developers the chance to send notifications to users will help make web apps more able to compete with apps that are offered via the App Store, something that will no doubt help Apple's claims that web apps are a viable option for developers.
Developers looking forward to taking advantage of this new notifications API can read more about it on Maximiliano Firtman's blog including information on the testing carried out.
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Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.