Earlier this year announcements spread that Apple was changing its App Store requirements for third party browser makers, and would no longer be requiring them to use WebKit as the rendering engine (like Safari does).

This change hasn’t gone into effect just yet, but for anyone who prefers other browsers than Safari on their iPhone or iPad, this is an exciting step. That means that Firefox could use its own native Gecko renderer, rather than functioning somewhat as a re-skinned Safari.

While browsers like Firefox have carried their own issues over the years — just visit any tech forum discussing browsers — I’ve always been a fan of the browser and would love to see a real version of Firefox available for my iPad Pro.

While in many ways all the major browsers work well on an iPad, the user base for the iPad Pro in particular all really want it to act more like a laptop and less like a giant iPhone. These types of changes are important steps in that direction.

According to Apple Insider, Firefox is already working on the non-WebKit version of the Firefox app for iOS. This way, they’ll have it ready right away when Apple opens the App Store up to allow developers to list such an app.

The Chromium project behind Chrome is also making progress toward the same goal: to prepare a version of Chrome for iOS that uses its own rendering engine known as Blink.

“Does anyone still use Firefox?”

The user base is certainly smaller than it once was. Many years ago Firefox was the #2 browser after Microsoft’s ubiquitous Internet Explorer. Once Chrome made its debut, a lot changed.

According to Kinsta, as of 2023 Firefox has a global user share of 7.69%. That means that globally, less than 10% of all internet users are using Firefox to browse the web. (Compare that to Chrome’s dominant 76% user share.)

I am curious, though, to what degree people avoid it because of iOS limitations and whether that might change a bit once the WebKit requirement goes away.

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