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iOS 16.4 adds new capabilities for web apps on iPhone and iPad, including access to push notifications

Apple has just released the first beta of iOS 16.4, including several major new features for web-apps thanks to policy updates and new features in the WebKit engine.

As detailed on the WebKit blog, Home Screen web apps have access to push notifications via the HTML5 standard Web Push API, including badges, for the first time. Access to the Apple push notification service was previously only available to App Store apps.

Unlike Safari on desktop, any website you browse in iOS 16.4 mobile Safari will not be able to request web push permissions. Apple is limiting the feature to web apps added to your Home Screen (create a shortcut for a web page using the Add to Homescreen button in the share sheet, which appear as app icons in your app grid).

Of course, every web app will also need permission to send notification alerts, just like native apps. Once set up, web app push notifications can also integrate with the Focus system. If you add the same web app to multiple devices, their Focus state will stay in sync for all of them.

Another related change is third-party browsers are now able to show user interface for users to add a website to their home screen, via the standard system share sheet. Home Screen web app shortcuts will also launch in the user’s default third party app now, not just Safari.

The design of fallback web app shortcut icons is also changing starting with iOS 16.4. Previously, iOS would use a mini screenshot of the web page as the icon, if the website publisher does not supply an explicit iOS-sized icon. The new design depicts a simple monogram placeholder icon, using the first letter of the website’s name.

Alongside Web Push, WebKit gains other new web API in 16.4 that will also help developers make better web apps. That includes support for making screen wake assertions, adopting the modern standards-based device orientation API, better access to codecs for video processing and more.

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