It only took 14 major iterations of Apple’s mobile operating system to let people pick their own web browser.
While the Cupertino, California-based company didn’t directly address it during its WWDC keynote, a quick glance at the iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 preview sites confirm it. iOS 14 will let you set a default browser and a default email app.
I still can’t believe it’s real.
Apple has long forced iOS users to use Safari and its own Mail app as the ‘defaults.’ Sure, you can download other browsers or email apps, but if you click a link, it still opens in the default app. Some companies have built clever workarounds into their apps. For example, Google lets Gmail users open links in Chrome. However, not having a system-wide default option was quite frustrating.
Unfortunately, Apple did not share details about how the feature will work. Instead, the iOS 14 web page only mentions that users can “set a default web browser and email app that launch when you click a link or want to compose a new mail message.”
It also remains unclear if Apple will allow developers to build on different browser engines in iOS 14. So far, any third-party browser on iOS has to run on WebKit, the same underlying technology that powers Safari. So aside from a different UI and sync features, there’s no real difference between using Safari, Chrome or any other browser on iOS. If this doesn’t change in iOS 14, hopefully, it will in a future iOS version. Having access to a full-fledge Chromium-based browser or Firefox would be great, especially on iPad.