Cryptee, Open Web Advocacy & EU vs Apple

8 min read

Hello Everyone, John here!

A lot has happened in the past three weeks, and we need your help fighting Apple to stop them from breaking all progressive web apps (PWAs) in the EU within the next 2 weeks.

Before we begin, let's have a quick recap of the events from the past few months leading up to this week's events. I gave an interview to Techlore to help summarize all this as best as I could, so if you prefer a video instead of reading, you can watch the video below as well.

If you are already aware of the events of this week, you may skip to the bottom of this post about how you can help us.


Apple has a number of hostile and anti-competitive policies for its App Store which are so abusive that the European Union passed a new law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), to make Apple play fair. A few examples of Apple's anti-competitive practices include:

Practices which were disliked globally by developers around the world, which is why DMA was passed and celebrated by developers worldwide.

And as many of you know, we're not a fan of the App Store, and that is why we exclusively and intentionally only make a Progressive Web App (PWA). PWAs are great!

Now back to Apple. Apple had 6 months to take action, and allow competing App Stores and Browser Engines on iOS. The Digital Markets Act even stated it as the primary motivation to prohibit banning browser engines:

"When gatekeepers operate and impose web browser engines, they are in a position to determine the functionality and standards that will apply not only to their own web browsers, but also to competing web browsers and, in turn, to web software applications."
— Digital Markets Act

This month, with the iOS 17.4 beta 1 (EU), we realized that our PWA failed to launch independently as an app, and instead launched as a browser tab in Safari. Which essentially meant Apple's demoting Web Apps from first-class citizens to mere shortcuts. And we realized, Apple's doing this only in the EU, and users outside the EU are not affected.

Following week, iOS 17.4 beta 2 (EU) contained a more detailed message.

No mention of this seismic change has been made in the usual places. Not the Safari release notes nor in the iOS Beta release overview. Apple’s silence has been deafening. No reply has been provided in a WebKit ticket, Apple developer forums, twitter discussions, and no statement has been provided to the many journalists seeking comment. Yet when Apple announced their compliance proposal for the DMA, Web Apps were noticeable by their absence. This is the same Apple that again and again claimed that Web Apps are the alternative distribution method for Apps in their mobile ecosystem.

"Apple is the sole decision maker as to whether an app is made available to app users through the Apple Store, isn't that correct?"
— US Congress

"If it’s a Native App, yes sir, if it’s a Web App no."
— Tim Cook

Apple had four choices here. And they chose the most outrageous one. Which is to outright remove support for Web Apps by converting them all to bookmarks. This fundamentally undermines the already tenuous competitiveness of Web Apps due to Apple policies.

Recall that Safari deletes data for any site that the you fail to visit for more than 7 days, but not for installed Web Apps. But since Apple's trying to convert Web Apps in the EU to bookmarks that open in Safari, this means, once Apple releases the 17.4 update, it will cause users data loss.

If you are a Cryptee PWA user based in the EU, if you have any offline documents you haven't sync'ed yet, you should do it now, before updating to iOS 17.4 to avoid data loss.  

We at Cryptee, and at Open Web Advocacy have considered that Apple might try something like this, but dismissed it as too blatantly anti-competitive, even for them.

Apple has had 15 years to facilitate true browser competition worldwide, and nearly two years since the DMA’s final text. It could have used that time to share functionality it historically self-preferenced to Safari with other browsers. Inaction and silence speaks volumes.

Cryptee & Open Web Advocacy are working together to fight Apple.

As a European company, Apple's actions directly affect us. So much so that, as developers who live in the EU, we won't even be able to test Cryptee on our own phones since we live in the EU ourselves.

As for the users of Cryptee from the EU, European journalists, reporters, peace-workers, activists, attorneys, therapists... hundreds of thousands of our users, those who live in the EU won't be able to use Cryptee as easily on their iPhones anymore.

So we had to take action immediately. We started working together with the amazing Open Web Advocacy organization in fighting Apple's absurd monopolistic actions. They are an absolutely amazing group of people, volunteers, expert developers, designers and friends, doing their best to make the internet a better place.


There are in total 5 ways you can help us make a difference.

№1 — Are you an EU resident? Do you use Cryptee's PWA on your iPhone? If so, Apple's actions will impact your day to day life, and we want to hear from you.

We want to hear your story, so we can better defend your rights.

Send us your stories to : stories {at} crypt {dot} ee — every story, and every sentence helps!

We're in contact with the European Commission's Digital Markets Authority, and they asked businesses in the EU for their users' stories to better understand the impact of Apple's actions.

Here's an example story from one of our users :

I'm a photo-journalist in Ukraine, on the front-line documenting the war.  Quite often I'm offline while  drafting my stories in Cryptee, and I publish them when I get online.

Once iOS 17.4 is out, it will erase all offline-stored user data in PWAs without letting the users know. So once he receives Apple's update, he will likely lose weeks of his work documenting the war.

№2 — Are you an EU resident? Do you use PWAs on your iPhone? If so, Apple's actions will impact your day to day life, and EU Digital Markets Authority wants to hear from you.

EU DMA has their contact in formation here (first three dropdown buttons). Reach out to them and let them know :

— Apple's discriminating on you as an EU resident.

— You wish to use Web Apps on your iOS device, and do so using whichever browser you prefer.

— Tell them your story, and how Apple's hostile actions will impact your life, your work.

When you do reach out to them please, be kind. Contrary to popular belief, European Commission Digital Markets Authority is not a board consisting of politicians, they're not the government, and they're not bureaucrats either. They are a body of tech experts, and they're not out there to regulate Apple for the fun of it. They are really kind people who are doing their best to help make the world a more fair and equal place for everyone.

№3 — Are you a developer? Do you have a PWA serving EU users? If so, Apple's actions will impact your business, and Open Web Advocacy wants to hear from you.

Open Web Advocacy has a survey form you can fill out to let them know just how badly Apple's hostile actions will impact your business. Every story counts!

Here's an example story we heard in our meeting with the Open Web Advocacy :

I work for a hospital, which uses Web Apps to notify oncology patients for appointments, coordinate their hospital visits and medications. When iOS 17.4 removes the ability of Web Apps to send push notifications, it will cause tens of thousands of our patients to struggle.

№4 — Donate to Open Web Advocacy group.

OWA is an organization of wonderful and kind humans defending your rights. And they could really use your help right now. You can head over here to donate to them :

№5 — Help us defend your rights, subscribe to a paid plan.

Cryptee is a tiny company out of Estonia, with very limited resources, and we've been doing our best to fight for your rights and keeping you safe since 2017. Everything we do is thanks to your help and paid support.

Unlike countless other companies in the industry, we don't have investors or venture capital firms backing us. Only your your subscriptions. We're proudly bootstrapped, independent, profitable and sustainable, and all this is thanks to your help and paid support.

If you'd like us to keep doing what we're doing for many more years to come, and help us fight Apple, subscribe to one of our paid plans, it would help us a lot!

In fact for those of you who are new customers, here's a special coupon code that will give you 10% off for lifetime on all our paid plans :


As the old saying goes, one Cryptee subscription a day, keeps the Apple away. ...or something like that...

If you read all the way down here, thank you for sticking with us and helping us & OWA defend your rights!

We got some exciting announcements for you on the horizon, stay tuned for more!

Before we go... we now have a new blog design. We hope you like it.

All the very best from the snowy winter-wonderland Estonia, Europe

— John Ozbay

or grab our rss feed