Apple last week released the first beta of iOS 15.4 to developers and public beta users. The update, which comes with multiple new features, hints at some welcome changes coming to Safari. More specifically, Apple is finally working to enable push notifications for web apps on iOS, as well as the WebXR API for AR/VR headset support.

As noted by developer Maximiliano Firtman, iOS 15.4 beta introduces new features that can be used by websites and web apps. One of them is support for universal custom icons, so the developer no longer needs to add specific code to provide a web app icon for iOS devices.

For four years, we have Safari on iOS supporting the Web App Manifest (from 11.3-March 2018), but the icons declaration was always ignored (a lack of support that was never documented by Apple or WebKit, BTW). That led to many Progressive Web App installations on iOS without a proper icon, as you also need to add a <link> with rel=apple-touch-icon in your HTML, and not every PWA developer was doing that.

However, the most notable change is yet to come – and that is push notifications for web apps. While Safari on macOS lets websites provide alerts to users when the webpage is in the background (or in some cases even with the app closed), Apple has never enabled the same feature on iOS.

Luckily, that seems to be about to change. As noted by Firtman, iOS 15.4 beta adds new “Built-in Web Notifications” and “Push API” toggles to the WebKit Experimental Features within the Safari settings. Both options are not working in beta 1, but this is a strong indication that Apple will finally enable push notifications for websites and web apps on iOS.

As some developers have been forced to release their apps as web apps on iOS (such as the xCloud app) due to App Store guidelines, these enhancements will certainly make the experience of using web apps on the iPhone and iPad a bit better.

Interestingly, iOS 15.4 beta now features the WebXR API, which provides support for augmented and virtual reality headsets on websites. The API comes disabled by default, but even when enabled there are no AR/VR headsets that currently work with iOS. As rumors suggest that Apple will introduce its first mixed reality headset by the end of this year, the new API might be related to Apple’s new device.

The official release of iOS 15.4 to the public is expected this spring.

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About the Author

Filipe Espósito

Filipe Espósito is a Brazilian tech Journalist who started covering Apple news on iHelp BR with some exclusive scoops — including the reveal of the new Apple Watch Series 5 models in titanium and ceramic. He joined 9to5Mac to share even more tech news around the world.