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Apple Weighs Letting Users Switch Default iPhone Apps to Rivals (bloomberg.com)
47 points by tosh 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

Please! I can’t believe that if I click an address, the only thing my iPad says is ‘do you want to open the app store and download Maps?’


Seriously. I run into this problem constantly.

Doesn’t mean shit (to me) unless they allow alternate browser engines. I want Firefox.

In practice, this would do nothing but accelerate the Chrome monoculture.

How would allowing more engines increase monoculture when the current situation is webkit only which is very similar to blink?

Because the great majority of users would choose Chrome on their iPhone and not Firefox, just like they do everywhere else.

This. We are now at a point where a platform allowing more choice will actually worsen the monoculture.

Came to post this - the proposals are more of a publicity stunt than actually "opening" up ios platform to developers. And the reason they are doing it because others have started complaining about Apple's abuse:

> ... Apple’s closed system to prohibit users from setting third-party apps as defaults was questioned last year during a hearing of a U.S. House of Representatives antitrust panel. Lawmakers pressed the issue of whether iPhone users can make non-Apple apps their defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email and music.

> ... Last year, Stockholm-based Spotify submitted an antitrust complaint to the European Union, saying Apple squeezes rival services by imposing a 30% cut for subscriptions made via the App Store. Apple responded that Spotify wants the benefits of the App Store without paying for them. As part of its complaint, Spotify singled out the inability to run on the HomePod and become the default music player in Siri, Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant.

It's good that Apple wants to avoid the fines and bad publicity and is willing to change its practices. But unless they change their philosophy and business model they will never be truly open and we customers will continue to be at their mercy and get screwed.

> ... The company currently pre-installs 38 default apps on iPhones and iPads, Bloomberg News has reported, including the Safari web browser, Maps, Messages and Mail.

Imagine that - Apple PRE-INSTALLS 38 DEFAULT app. We are used to complaining about computer and mobile manufactures that bundle apps on Windows and Android platforms but we accept this as a de-facto thing with Apple without a whimper. And this really, really really needs to change.

A developer should be able to use whatever rendering engine s/he wants to create a browser on ios and user should have the freedom to install apps from outside the app store.

Developers and users, who are both paying Apple, should be fighting for their consumer rights more aggressively rather than just giving in ...

And it shouldn't stop with just Apple, but every other corporate in the tech sector who are abusing their position due to lax regulation in this industry.

Because having a default mail app, music app, etc is not big enough itself?

Being able to change the default applications is a tiny “feature” that every other platform has done for years.

Could very well be for you, note the (to me) part :)

I don't see browser performance approaching anywhere near what webkit gets without JIT, and as I understand it, operating within the iOS app sandbox effectively nukes any attempt at performing JIT compilation (and I don't think breaking the sandbox for third-party browsers is a good idea either).

You can apply a sandbox to a JIT; that’s how Safari works.

I looked more into it - [0..1] a the only Safari has that other apps don't is MAP_JIT since running JIT means you can run unsigned code.

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17998373

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18429757

A rather interesting point is that on recent iOS versions you actually cannot use MAP_JIT unless your process is sandboxed. (You’re quoting me in the second link, FYI.)

which should also open up... And allow me to stream Spotify to my watch without the phone like Apple Music.

You need to talk to Spotify about that.

Apple provided the API a while back to allow third party audio streaming and apps exist today e.g. Overcast which take advantage of it.

meeee toooooo. I want somethign that isn't webkit!


For me, Firefox with extensions and to support an open web

Even with Firefox browser engine there would be no mechanism to install browser extensions.

And WebKit is open source just like Firefox is. How is one open and not the other ?

> Even with Firefox browser engine there would be no mechanism to install browser extensions.

Why not? When we can install extensions for Mobile Safari, if other browsers are permitted with their own rendering engine, why would browser extensions for them be not allowed?

> And WebKit is open source just like Firefox is. How is one open and not the other?

You can like open source webkit. I can like open source Firefox. Is it fair that only you can enjoy webkit on ios and I can't enjoy Firefox on ios? That's the issue - the deliberate limitation of choice.

Why would there be no mechanism to install extensions?

I'd like to support Firefox so that we do not end up in a browser (mono|duo)culture, like the IE6 days. For this reason I use Firefox on iOS even though it's skinned WebKit.

My impression is that Mozilla has generally had the well-being of netizens front and centre, social controversies involving Eich aside.

Is it WebKit that holds that back or iOS sandboxing?

Because it makes the web less of a mono culture.

It also removes some statistics skews I would guess.

While I consider this to be a good thing in general, I do fear it may cement Chrome's browser monoculture dominance further (even if on iOS it does still use WebKit instead of Blink).

It'd make Firefox Sync between my Mac, iPhone, and iPad useful. Sure, it technically exists already, but Firefox on iOS is an annoying proposition since links can't open it.

It is possible to use Firefox on iOS and survive. My primary use of the Share menu is just to share links to Firefox, with the option to even open tabs in the background. Still, this is obviously the best they can do with the limited OS APIs, and it might make just as much sense for Apple to just make the Share UX the primary way you select your web browser (with Safari being the built-in option).

Yes, for us folks using Firefox it would make things more convenient, however in the grand scheme of things I fear the gains made by Chrome would be much larger. Though I agree Apple's methods in retaining Safari's marketshare isn't exactly honorable, it did work in keeping Chrome's all-encompassing dominance in check.

Not completely related but I use the iCloud extensions for Windows for both Firefox and Chrome.

My bookmarks stay synced between all three browsers on my computer and phone.

I too almost found iCloud sync to be the be-all end-all solution of browser syncing, then I discovered that the same iCloud sync on Mac does NOT support Firefox/Chrome - only Safari.

I'm relying on Xbrowsersync for now but it's still not the optimal "everything everywhere" solution, as it does not support syncing to Safari (and from reading their website, its developer appears to be ideologically opposed to implementing it).

About time, to be honest. Potential antitrust crackdowns probably scared them into it.

This is better than nothing but they really need to step up their handling of files in a general way.

Even on the Mac it is ridiculous that for decades the Unix “file” command (installed on the Mac!!) knows more about files than the graphical OSes do when opening them. Why is it so hard to recognize text as something openable and previewable without a specific file extension, for instance?

So yes, please improve options for handling links but let’s not pretend they aren’t still years behind where they should be.

I'm more excited about the discussion to allow apple music to be streamed on other platforms, and other platforms to be streamed on homepod.

Android already supports Apple Music unless they terminated the Beats offering they had for years.

It works on Android, Windows, and the web.

Remember when Microsoft had to pay $794m for bundling a web browser with their OS?

I'm kind of surprised Apple has gotten away with this for so long.

I also remember Windows having at one point a market share of 95%.

And the issue wasn't just the bundling but that they used that market share to strong arm OEMs into making IE the default browser and preventing Netscape deals. Monopolies can be legal and tolerated provided you aren't going out of your way to extinguish what's left of the competition.

You can’t have a successful mobile app business without being on the iPhone. So, I say Apple has just as effective control over the market as a straight monopoly.

As a matter of fact in the US you do not strictly need greater than a 50% market share to even be considered a monopoly. You just need to have market control.However Apple’s iPhone is hovering just around 50% in the United States.

I don't understand why Google was effectively forced to do allow choice for search but Apple isn't for a whole host of things.

Pretty simple.

Google Search has a market share of 92%. iPhone has a market share of 11%.

Honestly this is my biggest gripe with ios.

While this is a good move for users, it can also be a bad one.

Imagine all the chat/calling apps that will try to replace your default Phone/messaging/etc. apps and the amount of spam/inconsistent behaviour this will bring.

Hopefully Apple will make sure only top notch apps can replace the default apps.

this doesn't make sense. if the user wants to replace the default with a spammy app, they should have every right to (with explicit UI to do so). spammy app will get uninstalled enough and the market will direct them to not be spammy or die.

choosing apple (or Microsoft, or Google, ...) as the arbiters of what defaults exist on a platform, and making them unchangeable, is anticompetitive. strangely, we're no longer in a climate where calling out companies on this behavior is appealing anymore. Microsoft got much worse treatment when it did this decades ago. apple has been given a pass on this forever.

Microsoft is at it still constantly resetting the default pdf reader.

Hopefully the permission scheme is similar to Windows 10, eg. Apps can only open settings to the "change defaults" screen and no longer can auto-set your default browser.

Not really. Android has a similar feature for years and no application can abuse this system since this is all controlled by OS.

Are they considering letting you change the default calling app? That would seem very odd. Mail and browser, and perhaps messaging (only for the purpose of “Siri, send a message to Joe saying blah”).

I doubt this since they already have CallKit which is used for global call answering similar to the Phone app. Maybe the extent is being able to set a default for what app is used to call phone numbers when you click them.

There is already a Siri intent that allows you to send messages via third party apps.

This would make me reconsider iPhone, this would also be a boon for Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

Safari on iOS 13 is broken and getting worse. Bring it on.

How is it broken? (Legitimate question, I haven’t had any issues with it)

iPhone 11 Pro, iOS 13.3.1.

Pages will render blank, scrolling shows content but then gets wiped blank. Once the app loses its mind it needs to be force quit before it works again. I’ll try a screen recording sometime. I can’t be the only one seeing this.

Happens daily for me too iOS 13 on iPhone 8. Force quitting is the only fix

Cost of Antitrust settlement 12 years after doing what you wanted?

Cost of software patch for inconsequential issue?


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