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Browser Companies Have Criticism of the EU Browser Choice Screen in iOS 17.4 Safari

Browser Companies Have Criticism of the EU Browser Choice Screen in iOS 17.4 Safari

While third-party browser developers have reported a jump in iPhone installs since Apple made changes in iOS 17.4 to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, that doesn’t mean there isn’t criticism from the developers related to Apple’s default browser choice screen.

Apple released iOS 17.4 in March, which now presents a list of third-party browsers when they open Safari for the first time, allowing them to select from a list of browsers to designate as their default browser.

The change has definitely led to more installations of third-party browsers. Reuters on Wednesday reported that privacy-first browser Aloha reported a 250% jump in use in March. The jump in users came mostly in France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and Poland. Some browsers saw as much as a 3X increase in users.

The Vivaldi browser, the Ecosia browser, and the Brave have all experienced an increase in user numbers. Meanwhile, the privacy-centric browser DuckDuckGo, as well as the Opera browser, have both reported impressive user increases.

For inclusion on the list, developers must have the Default Browser Entitlement that is available to developers and the app must have been downloaded by 5,000+ iPhone users across all EU countries during the prior calendar year.

Google’s Pixel software also now offers third-party alternatives to Chrome. Other Android phone makers will also offer the choice screen soon.

While the EU’s new regulations appear to have been beneficial to third-party browser developers, not everyone is happy. Developers say Apple and Google both are dragging their feet on the rollout, hampering the move away from Safari and Chrome. Mozilla, maker of the Firefox browser, says iOS 17.4 has only been installed by around one-fifth of iPhone users in the EU, which they say is taking longer than previous iOS updates.

Vivaldi CEO Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner criticizes the way the browser choice list is laid out.

“The process is just so convoluted that it’s easiest for (users) to select Safari or potentially some other known name,” he told Reuters.

“The list of browsers does not show additional information and that does not help users to make a meaningful choice,” a Vivaldi spokesperson told TechCrunch. “If the user has already selected a browser of their own choice, the choice screen can actively try to push them away from it, and may not even include it in the list that it presents to the user.”

The EC is investigating the Apple browser choice screen and third-party browser developers are bring consulted during the investigation, so we can likely see more rule changes in the near future.