Mozilla Firefox could come to iPhone and iPad with its own engine, before Apple allows it

iPad Mini 6
(Image credit: iMore)

Mozilla, the company behind the popular Firefox web browser, is already working on a way to bring its Gecko browser engine to iPhone and iPad in the hope that Apple will one day allow it to do so.

While there are already third-party web browsers available in the App Store, including Firefox, they must all use Apple's WebKit browsing engine. That's a requirement for web browsers to be allowed into the App Store and it's something some people aren't happy about. They believe it stifles competition.

Now, Mozilla has confirmed that it is looking into what it would take to bring Gecko to the App Store just in case Apple gives it the go-ahead one day.

The little engine that could

Apple's requirement that all web browsers use WebKit is something that has already landed it in hot water in the UK. The country's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into whether Apple's motives are pure, saying that it believes Apple is limiting browser progress as a result of its requirements.

Apple has already appealed the investigation on a technicality, rather than arguing that the CMA is wrong.

Now, The Register reports that Mozilla is laying the groundwork should the CMA or another agency force Apple's hand and make it allow third-party web browsing engines into the App Store.

"We abide by Apple's iOS app store policies, and are simply doing some exploratory work to understand the technical challenges for Gecko-based browsers on iOS if those policies were to change," a Mozilla spokesperson told The Register. "We hope the day will come when people can freely decide to use the browser of their choice, including the opportunity to select the engine that underpins it."

It's unlikely that Mozilla knows something we don't, but with pressure on Apple increasing it makes plenty of sense for it to look into what would happen should the status quo change.

Apple has long argued that security and privacy are some of most important features on devices like its best iPhone, the iPhone 14, something says is only possible because of its App Store controls. Whether that's accurate or won't matter if Apple finds itself forced to change by regulators at home and abroad.

Oliver Haslam

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.