What a surprise! Apple found a way to deliver browser engine and app store choice

We know this because those features just landed in iOS 17.4, along with lots of other goodies

Apple has debuted version 17.4 of its iOS & iPadOS, and by doing so made them compliant with European law.

The release notes for the OS update are a masterpiece of understatement, because they scarcely mention the big changes required by the European Union's Digital Markets Act: allowing choice of browser engine and access to third-party app stores and payment services, before March 6.

Browser choice is only mentioned in the context of a known issue that means the default browser choice screen – which now appears after installation of the OS update within the EU – "might not show up when intended and apps requiring certain managed entitlements might not install or show an error."

Nice start, Apple.

The notes also describe a couple of glitches with "Alternative app marketplaces."

Apple fought hard and long against third-party marketplaces and payment services, claiming they would damage the experience of using iThings, and introduce risks. Cupertino also suggested browser engines other than its own WebKit might degrade security and usability.

Yet iOS 17.4 delivers all of the above – at least within the EU. Outside Europe, iGadget users are still limited to Apple's App Store and WebKit-based browsers.

So it's a small start, but a start. See, Apple? That wasn't so hard after all.

iOS 17.4 also adds automatic transcription of podcasts (so users can search within the text), additional emoji, and quantum-safe security for iMessage.

As promised, the update retains progressive web apps after Apple threatened to remove them as part of its efforts to keep its walled garden intact while also complying with Europe's requirements.

iOS 17.4 also includes fixes for some security issues, including one discovered by "Cristian Dinca of 'Tudor Vianu' National High School of Computer Science, Romania." Students at the school are aged between 11 and 19, suggesting Dinca's career is off to an early start – CVE-2024-23243 will forever be linked to his name.

Dinca's discovery pertained to private data redaction for log entries in Apple's AirDrop peer-to-peer file transfer service.

Which is kind of a big deal. Chinese authorities detest AirDrop as it's hard for them to surveil.

Meanwhile, those of us outside the EU are looking forward to a taste of that delicious browser choice, presuming it works out OK. Come on, Apple, Australia competes in the Eurovision Song Contest – doesn't that count for something? ®

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