When Apple makes the iOS 17.4 iPhone software update available to everyone within the next few weeks it will bring with it support for third-party app stores and more, but only for those in the European Union. However, while that's good news for developers and users alike, there's some bad news to go with it.
That's after it was discovered that the current iOS 17.4 developer beta actually removes a feature and it doesn't appear to be a bug. The feature, the ability to install progressive web apps (PWA), appears to have been removed from Safari which means that PWAs can no longer be used on EU-based iPhones running iOS 17.4.
A progressive web app is a website that can be added to the iPhone's Home screen and effectively turned into an app. That includes support for badges and push notifications, while PWAs also have access to dedicated storage as well. Launching a PWA doesn't open Safari but instead launches the web app without any of the cruft normally associated with a web browser.
The removal of PWA support comes as a shock and it isn't something Apple has so far confirmed. Videos showing iOS 17.4 running on affected devices indicate that any PWAs that were previously installed now launch in Safari as if they were traditional bookmarks.
Apple has yet to confirm when it will release iOS 17.4 to the public but the software has to land before early-March - the date when the EU's Digital Markets Act will require that third-party app stores be allowed on iPhones within the region.