back to article Telegram criticizes Apple for 'intentionally crippling' web app features on iOS

A week after confirming plans for Telegram Premium, the messaging platform's CEO, Pavel Durov, is again criticizing Apple's approach to its Safari browser for stifling the efforts of web developers. Durov would very much like his web-based messaging platform, Telegram Web, to be delivered as a web app rather than native, but …

  1. Forget It

    So that's why Safari remains in the stone age.

    To avoid webapps taking away their AppStore revenue stream.

    Surprised?

    1. Dave K

      It's a far cry from when the iPhone first came out with no app store. I recall a certain Mr Jobs back then stating that there was no need for one as web apps could provide 3rd party content on the iPhone. How times have changed...

  2. Abominator Bronze badge

    My experience with web apps when I have used them have been disappointing. Slow and bloated seems to be the usual.

    In all honesty I prefer native apps.

    1. iron Silver badge

      The only people who really want web apps are web developers and their managers who don't want to employ client app developers. For everyone else it's trying to turn a screw with a spanner.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        And those who simply don't want, for whatever reason, to be forced to use a client application if a web application exists.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Those must be the people with a huge mob... Web on mobiles is pathetic no matter the browser. Whaddya mean I have to scroll five times to see the whole screen? I'm open to knowing what works for people in iOS, really I'd like to understand.

          1. Spamfast
            Facepalm

            Web on mobiles is pathetic no matter the browser.

            I agree that most web sites & SPAs are currently difficult to use on a mobile or even a tablet.

            But this is because the developers don't use (sorry for the marketing speak) responsive design to adapt the content to smaller screen sizes and touch-only input in an intelligent way.

            Partly this is because they know they'll have to write an app for iOS and possibly for Android anyway so don't waste the effort.

            If Apple allowed Gecko or Chromium or kept WebKit up to date and provided a decent set of web APIs into device services then this might not be the case.

            This is rather the point that Durov is making. There was a comment piece in El Reg to the same effect quite recently.

            Web apps can then be made to appear on the GUI the same as native ones - the facilities for this are already there on other platforms.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        No, there are many reasons to use a web app instead of a native one. Take this site. Anyone want to download and install a program to read these articles and post on the forums? No, because it's just a website. There's no need for special OS-specific code to display some text and images. I've seen people create such things before. The Windows application for a forum whose administrators thought they were very clever to do this unorthodox approach comes to mind, though when some users wanted to use something other than Windows, they had to hastily add a website version which did the same things.

        Similarly for many relatively simple applications that exist just to provide an interface to some remote server. A native app is useful when lots of performance is needed or when working offline, but a lot of apps are basic clients for interacting with something else and make little use of OS functionality. A web version means it's likely compatible with more things, from phones with unusual operating systems to devices that don't have access to app stores (that's mostly an Android problem). I don't like the technologies often used to make them and would much prefer to write native apps myself, but I also can't deny that there are lots of good arguments for using them.

        1. Falmari Silver badge
          Devil

          @doublelayer “No, there are many reasons to use a web app instead of a native one. Take this site. Anyone want to download and install a program to read these articles and post on the forums?”

          Well just to play devil’s advocate here, is that not exactly what we have done? We have a native app to do just that, it is the web browser. ;)

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            I think you know what I meant, since the web browser was the comparison being made. I mean a separate application, requiring El Reg to hire developers for each platform, without which you can't use the site. Yes, we do use browsers, but I can use whatever browser I like on whatever platform I like and they don't have to do extra work. If I want to use Firefox on Mac OS or if I want to use Lynx on a 1995-era OS I've painstakingly compiled to run and display on an ereader, their site will work just the same and I will have the same access to it. There are many services that can benefit from that simplicity and don't require that much from the OS to make it possible.

      3. bigtimehustler

        Really? Why exactly? I've never felt the need or want for a desktop Facebook or Instagram installed on my laptop. Any app can provide a very decent service on a browser if it's written correctly.

        1. Falmari Silver badge
          Devil

          @bigtimehustler “I've never felt the need or want for a desktop Facebook or Instagram installed on my laptop. Any app can provide a very decent service on a browser if it's written correctly.”

          Neither is there a need for a web app for Facebook or Instagram on a desktop. But on a phone, there is a Facebook and Instagram native app. Both iPhone and Android which is not restricted in browser choice.

          Why write a native app for Android if “Any app can provide a very decent service on a browser if it's written correctly”?

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            "Why write a native app for Android if “Any app can provide a very decent service on a browser if it's written correctly”?"

            In Facebook's case, because it gives you extra ways to completely destroy the user's privacy, and who could pass up that opportunity. A lot of other apps use native versions on Android for a few reasons that don't necessarily apply to a newcomer. For example, when phones were less consistently online, apps could provide an offline experience they no longer bother with. When storage was more limited, an installed app was less likely to be automatically purged than stuff in a web cache. There will always be some services that either find a benefit in writing a native app or choose to do so anyway. That's fine. Some others don't need to do it and could easily avoid having to if mobile browsers weren't as bad.

            1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

              So instead you would like Google to destroy your privacy?

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                If you're using their services on Android, they're already doing that. I would like as few people to do so as possible. And if you're talking about Chrome, you're aware there are other choices, right? You may not like Firefox (I don't object that much, but I know some do), but it does work and avoid Google's dangerous Chromium code. There are other things based off of Firefox or using some of Chromium with at least some of Google's hooks removed. Make up your mind where your preferences regarding privacy and features are, then go with that. That doesn't argue against allowing browsers to function as they do on other OSes.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      There seem to be three separate significant issues.

      The first is that the web experience is degraded (for whatever reason) and you can't replace it.

      The second is that you can't build any other app that dynamically loads its executable content, so you couldn't, for example, create a portable app format other than HTML/Javascript to get around the ban on web engines.

      These seem to be a necessary precursor to the third: the app store and its price-gouging ways. It's not by accident that native apps are "preferred".

  3. DJV Silver badge

    I love the fact that...

    ...there's now always an ® after the "We have asked Apple for comment" text. Has El Reg really registered that sentence as a trademark?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: I love the fact that...

      Haven't you noticed? All articles end with a ®. The 'R' is probably supposed to signify something, but I can't quite put my finger on what...

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: I love the fact that...

        Duh, yes! Whoosh!

  4. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    That's Apple for ya

    That's Apple for 'ya. I think the M1 is a lovely chip, but I won't give Apple a penny of my money based on their insistence on restricting how I use my own devices, insistence on proprietary connectors, and quite simply excessive cost.

    To be honest, I don't think Apple is intentionally crippling Safari (to force people to use native apps.) They quite simply have fallen behind on developing their browser -- Firefox and Chrome have had millions of hours of development done on them, webkit quite simply has not had as many man-hours devoted to it and is starting to fall behind due to this. I don't know if this is Apple not making Safari a priority, or if it's them doing what they can and just not getting things caught up; whichever, the result is the same.

    That said, I STILL put this problem squarely on Apple -- screw them for not allowing Firefox or Chrome on their devices, if someone wishes to install it. (I know they have "Firefox" at least, but as it says in the article, it's not really firefox, it's really just a skin running over webkit, since Apple ridiculously disallows other browser engines.)

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: That's Apple for ya

      They quite simply have fallen behind on developing their browser

      You say "basic slothfulness" and I say "believable spuriousness" but it's all just BS.

    2. garretmh

      Re: That's Apple for ya

      I firmly believe they are intentionally putting this off. Safari development is slower than Chromium and FireFox but they do a decent job of implementing browser standards once they’re finalized, but they’ve had years to improve PWA support without any progress.

      1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: That's Apple for ya

        If they followed Chronium quickly in everything, wood not it make Google to own the Internet?

        Safari is the only player left who can put breakers on Google.

        1. itguy

          Re: That's Apple for ya

          Chromium is not owned by Google. It’s open source and free for anyone to use. You may be confusing it with the Chrome browser which it’s a google app.

  5. Number 39

    A bit rich Telegram complaining about others crippling things

    After they changed their system to require a smartphone, eventually cutting off most of my contacts. Matrix here I come. (And I used to be a massive Telegram advocate)

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