Print 39 comment(s) - last by Dark Legion.. on Jan 14 at 10:13 PM

Apple is finally allowing browsers, like those shown here, on the iPhone. Wondering why you've never heard of any of them? Apple is only allowing third party browsers based on its Safari webkit, which means no Firefox, Opera, or Chrome.
Apple opens gate to independent software companies to publish browsers with a significant catch

Since the App Store for the iPhone and iPod Touch debuted, it has been a runaway hit selling millions of apps and spawning an entirely new software industry.  However, Apple has developed a reputation over the course of last year as a bit of a dictator when it comes to the app store.  Apple was quick to shoot down any applications which it found offensive or which it felt might interfere with its own apps.  That meant competitive internet browsers or music players were less than welcome at the store.

When it comes to internet browsers, Apple has announced that it will finally be relenting, but only somewhat.  Apple is dropping its "duplication of functionality" clause, and as of yesterday has began to approve several "new" browsers that had been gathering dust the last couple months.

The catch -- and it’s a big one -- is that all the browsers it’s approving are based on Apple’s Safari.  For those expecting Firefox, Chrome, or Opera, you are in for a disappointment.

Meet Apple's new browsers:  there's the "Edge" browser, which is a plainer looking browser without Safari's chrome, there's the privacy inclined "Incognito", there's the vibration-countering "Shaking Web", and there's an enhanced tab browser "WebMate".  The apps are all built, though, on Safari's WebKit and are thus Apple-powered.

While it might seem like the new browsers are akin to Safari extensions, unlike extensions, they're considered fully fledged apps.  And that means you can only run one at a time.  Really, the new browsers aren't even that new in a sense as the NYT, AP, and USA Today apps all used the Safari WebKit to improve their functionality.

The only difference is that the change opens the door to new products which could, in a respect replace Apple's base product, the Safari browser.  While Apple will likely get a slice of the revenue if one of them takes off, it will be a smaller slice, and it will have less control. 

With many users reporting the stock Safari to be buggy and glitch-prone, the idea of independent developers being able to improve it, a la Firefox, is a welcome one to many.  Additionally, it seems like it will only be a matter of time before Firefox, Opera and others are fully allowed.  However, Apple is known to keep its users hoping in vain, so that's by no means a sure bet.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

So Close
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 10:23:48 AM , Rating: 2
As has already been pointed out, these applications are using the WebKit frameworks provided in the iPhone SDK to implement web browsing functionality in the same way that Apple's Safari application does. WebKit is not "owned" by Apple but they are a significant contributor to the open source project in terms of financing and personnel.

Google's Chrome, plus other WebKit-based browsers, are perfectly viable on the iPhone, although clearly functionality would be limited relative to the desktop version.

RE: So Close
By Ryanman on 1/14/2009 11:01:01 AM , Rating: 2
You'd think that apple would include the "shake" feature itself... with all the little gimmicks they've thrown in, this seems like the most obvious (and potentially useful) one.

RE: So Close
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 11:08:45 AM , Rating: 2
I'd have to see it in action for myself but if it truly does remove "shaking" when you are trying to read on the move, then that's genius. I suspect that it's not in Safari simply because no one had thought of using the accelerometer in that way. It's remarkable what good ideas people are having. Thank goodness we aren't still restricted to developing 3rd party applications for the iPhone using web apps. Yick!

RE: So Close
By omnicronx on 1/14/2009 12:19:24 PM , Rating: 2
This all depends on what Apple considers 'based on'. Safari is an offshoot of WebKit and is owned by Apple, if Apple decides that these browsers have to be directly based off of safari, then Apple can surely pull alot more weight then by simply putting the restriction on being WEBKIT based.

This would also stop Googles Chrome from making a debut on the iphone.

RE: So Close
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 2:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
No, it's just plain ol' WebKit. Safari is just a "wrapper" around the WebKit rendering engine that provides functionality like bookmark management - it's not an offshoot. The WebKit framework is part of the iPhone SDK, much like it is for desktop OS X application development. It's one reason why there are quite a few WebKit-based browsers for the Mac (e.g. Omniweb, Shiira, etc.) - it's very easy to get a basic browser up and running. It's funny. At one time there was basically just IE and Netscape for the Mac and now you can't move for browsers...

The only reason why Chrome might not make it to the iPhone is if they do something like replace the JavaScript engine and Apple takes offense to this. Still, since they haven't even released a desktop OS X version yet, I guess we'll have to wait a while to see if Google hits a problem, assuming that they even want to make an iPhone version.

How so?
By omnicronx on 1/14/2009 10:23:06 AM , Rating: 2
While Apple will likely get a slice of the revenue if one of them takes off, it will be a smaller slice, and it will have less control.
I just don't see how this makes sense. Safari is not a download, it comes with the iphone, thus any other browser that is bought through the Apple store is extra income for Apple.

In fact they will probably welcome it, not to mention I am pretty sure the GPL license will apply here, including sharing useful code changes back with Apple, which could give Apple the ability to use code changes of other browsers based on WEBKIT without having to pay anything.

RE: How so?
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
But like desktop browsers, couldn't they just make it free? Then there is no slice of the pie for Apple to take, especially for something that should be free anyway (or at least the one included shouldn't be so buggy).

RE: How so?
By omnicronx on 1/14/2009 10:56:30 AM , Rating: 3
Unless you unlock your phone, installing programs on the iPhone is pretty closed up. The chances that someone is going to develop software for free, instead of taking 70% profits is very slim. Also I really doubt Apple will allow it, why make it free when they could make 30% off of every sale, and take any features/improvements they want to improve their own browser. (remember Apple has to approve everything on their store, they could probably overule the developer even if they wanted to give it away for free)

RE: How so?
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 10:58:54 AM , Rating: 2
The interesting question might be, who gets the Google revenue for each search made using the built-in search bar? Somehow I think it'll be Apple and, if so, these browsers will make absolutely no difference to Apple's income. On the contrary, they may actually increase it if the application has a fee since Apple will receive 30% of the fee on top of the search revenue.

Chrome is Webkit
By lebe0024 on 1/14/2009 9:51:44 AM , Rating: 2
Chrome is built on webkit! But it will never happen. I hate apple. I have an iphone 3g, and I am extremely disappointed with apple's lock-down policies.

RE: Chrome is Webkit
By h0kiez on 1/14/2009 2:25:22 PM , Rating: 1
If you're disappointed, then you don't pay very much attention. For better or worse, that is how Apple operates and always has. Deal with it, or buy a competitor's product.

RE: Chrome is Webkit
By Darkskypoet on 1/14/2009 3:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I too have an iPhone... And as soon as a carrier up here picks up the pre, or maybe one of the better android phones; my 'toy' iPhone goes to my girlfriend. I miss having a smart phone with hundreds of thousands of apps, that some a$$ in Cupertino didn't get to vet. That handles work and play, connects like a std mass storage drive, etc. Granted my 650 didn't multitask well, but it's FOUR YEARS OLD. I was expecting better from the iPhone, and am hoping Palm lives up to its past, and its 'mobile DNA'. :)

(yes I've jailbroken it and gone back again, browsers and apps crash either way, and long text documents to email fail. Sigh. I could take notes in class on my Treo 650, I wouldn't trust that much effort to an iphone app.)

By SurreDeth on 1/14/2009 10:16:38 AM , Rating: 3
Even if I have to pay their incredibly stupid 15% restocking fee. Not much point in having an appliance that cannot run applications in the background.

By gstrickler on 1/14/09, Rating: 0
Closed systems FTW!
By reader1 on 1/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: Closed systems FTW!
By amanojaku on 1/14/2009 9:56:53 AM , Rating: 3
I hope you're joking. I'm no MS lover, but I'm beyond sick of Apple and its antics. I used to be a Mac fan, but Apple's slimy way of doing things is just... slimy. Make a web browser based on Safari? What's the point if I already have Safari?!? Closed systems are better than open systems? Sure, if you liked the days when you had to bring your Mac into the store get upgrades or risk voiding the warranty. How about those uber-cool closed-designs - with non-replaceable batteries? iTunes is a requirement to use your iPod? Yeah, Apple is the way to go.

Remember the Who's "Won't get fooled again" - "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss"

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By reader1 on 1/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: Closed systems FTW!
By amanojaku on 1/14/2009 10:32:20 AM , Rating: 3
*Sigh* iTunes is "dominant" because you are forced to use it if you own an iPod or iTunes. Everyone I know who uses iTunes is sick of it's bloat (slow performance compared to other players, even Windows Media Player) and damn-near weekly updates. I've dumped it in favor of VLC, which could use some polish, but is a much better product, in my opinion. iTunes is nothing more than the Internet Explorer of the iWorld. We didn't want IE to be a requirement, so why are we going to accept iTunes?

The iPod is dominant for two reasons: the original MP3 players sucked and the mass public didn't know about the decent obscure ones. Now that there are decent competitors it's a little too late: Apple was first at the party, and people don't like to change, even if change is better. Give it a few years and the story might be different; the Zune is steadily increasing its share, and who knows what dark horse will come out and create THE killer PMP?

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By Gzus666 on 1/14/2009 10:45:27 AM , Rating: 1

Well, if this comes to be I think I will cream my jeans.

Have to agree on VLC, great player with awesome codec support. Little buggy and could use a bit of polish, but solid for the most part. I have used WMP(I always revert to Mplayer2 cause I hate all the new flashy crap, I want to play movies, not wank it to the border of the player) forever and this is the first player I have found I prefer.

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:54:17 AM , Rating: 3
If by "wank it" to the border of the player you mean where it tells you what you're playing on the sidebar, then in the new Win7 WMP you actually have the option to hide that.

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By Gzus666 on 1/14/2009 12:38:20 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, I mean the player is huge and has a lot of flashy crap I could really care less about in a player. Granted I haven't gone to the brand new versions, but why would I do that when Mplayer2 works fantastically without the mess? All I want in my player is the basic buttons, menu bar and the ability to play anything I want.

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By PhoenixKnight on 1/14/2009 2:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
I believe there's a plugin or something for WMP 9 or 10 that allows you to put a minimal version on your taskbar, with just the basic buttons. My brother uses it in windows XP, but I've never used it myself, so I'm not sure how to do it.

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By reader1 on 1/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: Closed systems FTW!
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 10:55:36 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I wouldn't agree that VLC is crap, although my need for its services has decreased greatly since Perian appeared. However, the important point is that it isn't a suitable replacement for iTunes unless you really are looking for a basic media player. iTunes may well be bloated but it does include a lot of functionality that I like and use. With any luck we'll see a Cocoa version of the application when Snow Leopard is released that will improve performance a bit (not that I'm complaining - performance is fine for me).

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By drzoo2 on 1/14/2009 11:10:22 AM , Rating: 2
Are you out of your mind. Could you make a more general comment about something you obviously know nothing about?

First you state
This is one more step towards the end of the open PC and the Windows monopoly.

Which hinted at your cluelessness. Apple is on par with the same vendor lock-in tactics as Microsoft. They only contribute so long as there is benefit for them.

Then you state that VLC is crap. This was your defining moment. Other than cosmetics, VLC is some of the most powerful software I've used. Let me guess, it choked on a few of your wma's? Seriously, were do you stand. How about of an example of the crap that is VLC?


RE: Closed systems FTW!
By PhoenixKnight on 1/14/2009 11:00:58 AM , Rating: 2
Have you tried out Mozilla Songbird? I only have limited experience with iTunes, but Songbird seems to be very similar, and it supports plugins. I think you can even buy songs through the iTunes store through it, but I haven't tested it much, yet.

RE: Closed systems FTW!
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 10:34:25 AM , Rating: 2
It depends on how you want to spin things. Any of the "bad things" that you listed can also be spun as "good things", depending upon what is important to you. I'll confess that some of Apple's decisions over recent years have riled me somewhat but certainly I wouldn't consider the other platforms as suitable alternatives at this time.

Note: it's make a web browser based on WebKit. This is much the same as saying that Camino is based on Firefox when it is in fact based on the Gekko rendering engine used by Firefox. Put another way, these alternative browsers are not simply skins to Safari.

By ang sang on 1/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: jealousey
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:30:38 AM , Rating: 1

RE: jealousey
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:32:58 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, seriously? Yeah sorry that was pointless...

RE: jealousey
By ang sang on 1/14/2009 3:27:10 PM , Rating: 1
the point is right here (points up)


RE: jealousey
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
No I was trying to type something only you would read which didn't work so I said F*k it, its pointless. Anyway you would probably end up doing something like the mule from Family Guy.

RE: jealousey
By afkrotch on 1/14/2009 10:48:18 AM , Rating: 1
If they make the best product, explain why it's the least used? Hell, 100% of the stuff I use doesn't even work on OSX.

RE: jealousey
By Dark Legion on 1/14/2009 10:59:53 AM , Rating: 2
That would be because the programs you're using are for Windows (or Linux). Of course they're not going to work with Mac OS. It was the same with XP and Vista programs.

RE: jealousey
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 11:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
Just playing devil's advocate but if you already have a license for a Windows application then you can probably get at least an upgrade version of it for the next version of the OS whereas a version (if one exists) for another platform will be a complete new license.

Still, I can look at these things the other way around - all the applications that I use are for the Mac and switching to Windows would be damned expensive.

RE: jealousey
By afkrotch on 1/14/2009 12:21:42 PM , Rating: 2
All my programs will work on Windows NT, 2000, XP, and Vista. Hell, those programs aren't even available for OSX.

RE: jealousey
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 11:03:50 AM , Rating: 2
Simply because the market for their products is not perfectly competitive - there are barriers to someone switching. If you believe that market share is an indication of product quality then by that standard Internet Explorer must be the best browser and the iPod is the best MP3 player.

RE: jealousey
By afkrotch on 1/14/2009 12:28:31 PM , Rating: 2
For things like IE or an mp3 player, there really aren't any barriers to keep you from switching.

Hell, no one around has been able to tell me that IE is better or worse than any other browser or the iPod being better or worse than any other comparable mp3 player out there.

With an OS, you have a huge laundry list of why OSX blows. Course majority of that list goes with how closed Apple is with OSX or the hardware that's meant to go with it.

RE: jealousey
By kelmon on 1/14/2009 2:11:58 PM , Rating: 2
With all due respect, every platform today has a "huge laundry list of why [insert platform here] blows". I'm not going to pretend that OS X and the Mac is perfect because it's not. However, it is better than anything else out there for what I do and if people can't accept that then that's just their problem.

Note: Apple isn't closed with OS X. The core of the OS is open-source and you can feel free to compile and modify it yourself.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
Laptop or Tablet - Which Do You Prefer?
September 20, 2016, 6:32 AM
Update: Samsung Exchange Program Now in Progress
September 20, 2016, 5:30 AM
Smartphone Screen Protectors – What To Look For
September 21, 2016, 9:33 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki