iOS 16.4 will let web apps on your homescreen send push notifications

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Apple’s new iOS and iPadOS 16.4 betas will let Safari web apps on your homescreen send you push notifications, according to a new post on the WebKit blog.

As far back as the first iPhone, you’ve been able to add a shortcut to websites to your homescreen represented as app-like icons, but the web apps haven’t been able to send you notifications or show notification badges. With iOS and iPadOS 16.4, however, that will change.

Here’s how the push notifications will work, according to the blog post by Brady Eidson and Jen Simmons — though it sounds a lot like how they work with native apps already:

A web app that has been added to the Home Screen can request permission to receive push notifications as long as that request is in response to direct user interaction — such as tapping on a ‘subscribe’ button provided by the web app. iOS or iPadOS will prompt the user to give the web app permission to send notifications. The user can then manage those permissions per web app in Notifications Settings — just like any other app on iPhone and iPad.

The notifications from web apps work exactly like notifications from other apps. They show on the Lock Screen, in Notification Center, and on a paired Apple Watch.

Web apps will also be able to set a notification badge count, according to the blog, and the notifications will support Focus modes, too. And if you have multiple versions of a web app on your homescreen, they can have different settings, which might be useful to help separate personal and work use, for example. I’m personally glad we can manage the notifications on a per-web-app basis; that should make it a lot easier to keep them under control.

These web push notification changes were actually promised quite a long time ago, as Apple first announced web push notifications were on the way back at WWDC 2022 in June. That said, like on desktop, I don’t think I’ll be turning on any web push notifications — I already have turned most of my notifications for native apps off.

It’s not just Safari that’s getting some web app improvements: starting with iOS and iPadOS 16.4, you can save websites and apps from third-party browsers to your homescreen, too.


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