What is Web Push for Web Apps on iPhone and iPad?

As anticipated, Apple introduced support for Web Push on iOS and iPadOS with iOS 16.4. What is it and how can it benefit you, or your business?

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Apple, as expected, has rolled out support for Web Push on iOS and iPadOS in iOS 16.4, which arrived this week. Here's a look at what it is and how it might be a welcome addition for users and even for business.

What is Web Push for Web Apps?

Web Push makes it possible for web developers to send push notifications to users. The idea is that websites can easily be added to the iPhone or iPad Home from within the Share menu, after which developers can send those notifications.

How do notifications appear in Web Push?

Notifications are made visible in the same way as for any iOS app. That means when you look at the app icon on the Home screen, you’ll see the number of incoming notifications from that app through the use of a new Badging API.

How do I control Web App permissions?

Permission for a Home Screen web app to use this tool is automatically granted when you give a site permission to send notifications, such as when tapping a "Subscribe" button on the original site. Once you place a web app on your Home Page and give it permission to send notifications, you’ll be able to manage those permissions in Notification Settings.

Where do you see Web Push notifications?

Web Push notifications work like notifications from other apps. You’ll find them in the Lock Screen, Notification Center, and on a paired Apple Watch.

Are browsers other than Safari supported with Web Push?

Yes. Apple is making it possible for third-party browsers to add sites and web apps to the Home Screen.

Do Web Push notifications support Focus mode?

They do, indeed, support Focus mode. That means users can choose which apps they want to hear from and when they want to hear from them by configuring appropriate Focus modes.

What if I use different accounts for my Web apps?

If you have multiple access accounts for a single Web app, Apple will now let you add multiple copies of that Web app to your Home page, which means you can quickly review the status of all the accounts you hold.

Making Web apps work more like normal apps

Apple knows that Web apps need a little more functionality to become more like conventional apps. With this in mind, it has also created a bunch of APIs web developers can use to control elements of the experience, such as screen orientationuser activation, or screen wake

How is this useful for business?

If you run any kind of customer-facing business online, you can use Web Push to help build a stronger connection with clients. This may also be useful for sites and services that rely on search recommendations, as it gives them a chance to convince new site visitors to add the site to their Home screen. A business might use this opportunity to offer discounts, for instance, or new services, news, or other relevant content. All it needs is to convince customers to tap that subscribe button.

What must developers do to support Apple’s feature?

Web Push notifications make use of W3C standards, which means developers with websites that already implement standards-based web push should not need to do much more.

If you don’t run a website that is set up to work as a web app, you can add code to the site to get it to run like one on Apple’s platforms. Developers should create eye-catching Home screen icons for their sites. Web servers must be configured to send push notifications, as explained here.

Where can I find more information?

Apple has published extensive developer information online. Two documents are of particular significance, "Configuring Web Applications," which is essential to building good experiences, along with the server configuration instructions mentioned above.

What comes next?

Ever since Apple announced its plans to enable Web Push for Web apps on its devices at WWDC 2022, there has been speculation the feature will form part of its planned response to regulatory demands to open up its platforms.

It’s possible the company hopes that by enabling websites to act more like apps, it will be able to maintain its existing ecosystem for those who prefer the security of things as they are, while also opening its platforms up enough for competitors to offer their own experiences outside of Apple's control.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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