For me the most frustrating aspect of Apple’s approach to 3rd party apps has been the half-hearted attempt at embracing web apps, with an implementation that remains only tantalisingly close to being useful.

Critical bugs (such as seemingly intentional ones in Manifest behaviour, logged in Radar but ignored) and the absence of rather obvious features needed to make it a viable option (such as an install prompt and the option for users to manage app storage) mean it’s no closer to being anything more than lipservice than it was when it was originally announced.

Any hope of these bugs being fixed and new features like app store payment integration now seems fanciful.

The state of browser-to-desktop integration may have stagnated but millions of people are now using web apps like Slack, Atom and Visual Studio Code — even if those apps still can’t be deployed without wrapping them up in a boilerplate shim like Electron or PhoneGap.

Of course Apple are not alone in not having great web app support, but they did tout it it as a viable alternative to the App Store when, in reality, despite plenty of folks doing the difficult stuff required to make it an option, Apple didn’t follow through on the final implementation and didn’t quite deliver on that promise.

Microsoft first caught flack back when they tried to beat Netscape to the punch by introducing web app and OS integration with IE 4.0, Palm gave us WebOS and more recently Mozilla releasd Firefox OS — but Apple actually following through would have freed us from the tyranny of a capriciously run Apple store with seemingly arbitrary rules, enforced differently depending on their relationship with the publisher.

As the article suggests, it now seems that control was the intent all along.

“The network is the computer.” — John Gage

One day, John.

Software for news and media and civic tech. Cat herder. Director at Glitch Digital.

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