Apple iOS 15.4 Beta preview hints at support for AR/VR headsets and push notifications for web apps

Gadget Pixels reported on February 1, according to 9to5Mac, that Apple recently released a preview version of Apple iOS 15.4 Beta 1, which is available for developers and public beta users. This update, with several new features, hints at some welcome changes to the Safari browser. More specifically, Apple is finally working on enabling push notifications for web apps on iOS, as well as supporting the WebXR API for AR/VR headsets.

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

“For four years we supported the Web App Manifest in Safari on iOS, but the icon declaration was always ignored (Apple or WebKit never documented this lack of support). This resulted in many progressive web apps installed on iOS Programs (PWAs) don’t have a proper icon because you also need to add a <link> with rel=apple-touch-icon in the HTML, which is not what every PWA developer is doing.”

However, the most notable change yet to come — is push notifications for web applications. While Safari on macOS allows websites to alert users when web pages are in the background (or in some cases even when apps are closed), Apple has never enabled the same on iOS.

Fortunately, that appears to be about to change. As Firtman pointed out, the Apple iOS 15.4 beta adds new toggles for “Built-in Web Notifications” and “Push API” among the WebKit experimental features in Safari settings. Neither option is available in Beta 1, but it’s a strong indication that Apple will eventually enable push notifications for websites and web apps on iOS.

Since some developers are forced to publish their apps as web apps on iOS (like the Xbox xCloud app), these enhancements are sure to make the experience of using web apps a bit better on iPhone and iPad due to App Store guidelines .

Interestingly, the Apple iOS 15.4 beta now has the WebXR API, which powers augmented and virtual reality headsets on the website. The API is disabled by default, but even if enabled, no AR/VR headsets currently work with iOS. With rumors that Apple will launch its first MR headset before the end of the year, the new API may be related to Apple’s new device.

Apple is expected to release the official Apple iOS 15.4 system update to the public this spring.

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