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iOS 15.4 hints at AR/VR headset support and push notifications coming to web apps

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Developers and public beta users received the first beta of iOS 15.4 last week. The update, which includes a slew of new capabilities, suggests that Safari will be getting some much-needed updates soon. Apple is working on enabling push notifications for web apps on iOS, as well as the WebXR API for support of AR/VR headsets.

iOS 15.4 hints at AR/VR headset support and push notifications coming to web apps

iOS 15.4

iOS 15.4 hints at ARVR headset support

iOS 15.4 beta provides new functionalities that can be used by websites and web apps, according to developer Maximiliano Firtman. One of them is support for universal custom icons, which eliminates the requirement for the developer to add particular code to provide an icon for an iOS web app.

The most significant change, however, is still to come: push alerts for web apps. While Safari on macOS allows websites to send users notifications even while the page is in the background (or, in certain situations, even when the program is closed), Apple has never enabled the same feature on iOS.

Fortunately, this appears to be about to change. According to Firtman, the WebKit Experimental Features toggles in the Safari settings have been updated to include new “Built-in Web Notifications” and “Push API” toggles. Both choices aren’t working in beta 1, but this is a strong signal that Apple will finally allow websites and web apps to get push alerts on iOS.

Due to App Store guidelines, some developers have been obliged to offer their apps as web apps on iOS (such as the xCloud app), therefore these improvements will undoubtedly improve the experience of using web apps on the iPhone and iPad.

The WebXR API, which supports augmented and virtual reality headsets on websites, is currently included in iOS 15.4 beta. The API is disabled by default, however, even if it is enabled, no AR/VR headsets are currently compatible with iOS. According to reports, Apple will release its first mixed reality headset by the end of the year, therefore the new API could be tied to that product.

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