Mozilla And Google Are Developing A Non-WebKit Browser For iOS
Photo Illustration Firefox. (doc. Mozilla)

JAKARTA - It seems that Mozilla and Google are exploring alternatives using the browser engine approved by Apple, to provide their services on iOS.

Since the launch of the App Store, web browsers that have been developed and shipped to the iOS app storefront are required to use the company's WebKit engine, even when desktop versions use their own such as Mozilla Gecko or Google Blink.

"Web browsers and applications with web browsing functionality must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript," according to the App Store Review Guidelines.

With news that Apple is looking to loosen its grip on the iOS platform, Mozilla and Google have reportedly been working on developing separate versions of their existing browser apps in hopes of lifting those restrictions.

According to a report by The Register, Mozilla is said to be working on a non-WebKit iOS browser since October last year, the company posted on the GitHub repository hosting the code for the iOS version of Firefox, including a reference to GeckoView, a wrapper for Firefox's Gecko rendering engine.

"We comply with Apple's iOS app store policies, and are only doing some exploratory work to understand the technical challenges for Gecko-based browsers on iOS if those policies change," Mozilla said in a statement.

"We hope that there will come a time when people can freely decide to use the browser of their choice, including the opportunity to choose the underlying engine," he added.

Google's Chromium team, meanwhile, is reportedly also working on a new experimental browser for iOS based on Blink, instead of using Webkit as mandated by App Store policies.

Given the change to allow third-party app stores and the lifting of some of those previously imposed App Store requirements, possibly coming with iOS 17 later this year, it's likely the two browser giants are working on a release date together.

If third-party browsers on Apple's mobile operating systems get permission to use their engine, it will give Apple better competition to improve WebKit and offer more features to keep developers and others in the WebKit ecosystem.

There's no word at this time whether Microsoft is developing a version of Edge, if this change comes to fruition. This was quoted from various sources, Wednesday, February 8.

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