Apple's Impact on European Magicians

Apple's Impact on European Magicians

EDIT: Apple corrects the situation

Apple walked back on its decision to mutilate PWAs on March 1, 2024, a few days before shipping iOS 17.4. Apple claims to have misunderstood the EU's directives.

More info...

Apple's Impact on European Magicians

The future update to iOS 17.4 by Apple is causing some challenges for magicians in Europe who rely on PWA technology for magic apps. Here's what you need to know about the situation, whether it affects you, and the solutions available.

Understanding Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

A PWA is a website that looks like an app and has app-powers including permanent memory and an app button on the home screen. Their ancestors were called Web Apps.

PWAs run inside a web browser like Safari or Chrome but give you a full-screen experience, almost like having a regular app on your phone's home screen. They're difficult to code right but if done properly are indistinguishable from app store apps without being hindered by a review- and censorship process. The video sample shows a sophisticated PWA in action during the entire duration of the routine.

Many big companies, including Starbucks, use PWAs to offer a consistent experience across different devices without sending the user through the hassle of an app store and its associated user names or passwords. Some magic apps, like Replica4D also use PWAs in order to achieve sophisticated effects not allowed on the app store.

Is the EU or Apple killing PWAs?

The European Union isn't trying to eliminate PWAs; they just want to ensure fair competition and user choice. PWAs currently work only in Safari on iPhones, which goes against EU regulations favoring browser neutrality. Rather than giving PWAs the same powers in all browsers, Apple has chosen to limit their functionality in Safari to comply with regulations. Ironically, PWAs work seamlessly in alternative browsers on Mac computers, possibly giving a glimpse at the future of PWAs on iOS. More: TechCrunch Article accusing Apple of malicious intent and The Verge explaining PWAs and Apple's cheap way out


Using PWAs as a Magician in Europe

If you're a magician in Europe relying on PWAs, you might notice some differences in how they behave on your iPhone starting March 2024. They won't have the same level of customization, internal storage, and they'll show up more like a browser window than a standalone app. It might not be as convincing when imitating a home screen or another app because you'll see a search bar, the URL, and navigation buttons like in most browsers that help you navigate the internet. EDIT: The situation has been corrected and above limitations will not take effect in Europe.

Countries Affected

This issue impacts magicians in the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Solutions for Magicians in Europe

Here are 7 ways to escape Apple's PWA ban if you're in Europe. See which one works best for your specific use case.

1. Keep your gig-phone on iOS 17.3 until Apple provides a better iOS version (Turn off auto-update iOS)

2. Change your gig-phone to a non-EU Apple ID (Instructions)

3. Get an Android gig-phone for 60 EU (all PWAs work tons better there and I use this one to great effect for all my commercials)

4. Use full-screen web browsers intended for trade shows and stores like this one.

5. Use any other platform than iOS at no extra cost as offered by Replica4D

6. Stay patient and see if Apple makes any further adjustments. It often does.

7. Make backups of your PWA apps if they have export systems in place like Replica4D so you can transport them to other devices, systems, or future iOS versions without having to re-do all your customizations


There is no reason to panic and solutions are available aplenty if you are willing to adjust to the imposed changes by corporations and consumer protection laws,

While Apple's action to revoke an important feature from its OS in Europe could be interpreded as a passive aggressive move you could also question why the EU woud demand browser equality in a ripe and well-functioning ecosystem that already allows many alternative browsers. You could also feel puzzled about why Apple's Mac allows PWAs from Chrome, yet only Safari's PWA on iOS until March; It hints at that browser equality can include PWAs on all browsers instead of none.

One thing is certain; While large corporations and overpaid European politicians laugh all the way to the bank it's consumers and small developers who are left to feel without recourse. Maybe next time you buy a technology product or elect an official keep in mind what just happened.