By Jesse von Doom

June 5, 2023

Celebrating an open app ecosystem with Apple and a new vision for the web

All of us here at Glitch were watching Apple’s WWDC announcements today with excitement. Product launches are always fun, and new operating systems and features are great. But our takeaway from what Apple just announced is so much more. It feels like a wonderful, familiar story of connecting to people, customers and non-customers alike, through the magic of open standards powering new realities.

When I was a kid Apple computers were the monochromatic way I got to live the Oregon Trail in the computer room at school. I liked the rainbows in the logo, but it wasn’t until I first saw the internet almost 30 years ago that I really started to care about computers.

In 2007, everything about the internet changed when Apple introduced the first iPhone. Steve Jobs got up and said “We’ve got a very sweet story,” and talked about how developers would be able to build apps for iOS with HTML. Since then the web’s only grown more central to our lives but those of us who want to to build full-featured apps for the iPhone with HTML have always had a wishlist of one more thing we were waiting for — until today.

The Glitch community has been building installable web apps for years, taking advantage of the web features often called "progressive web apps" (PWAs) or web apps. Our Glitch-in-Bio app was a PWA from day one so maybe you’ve built one already! To celebrate this milestone from Apple we’re releasing a couple new tools the community can use to build installable apps:

With iOS 17, Apple is making good on that original vision for web apps as first-class citizens in their app ecosystem. Mobile Safari is gaining increased support for web apps by implementing the web push API — which means developers can write web apps that install directly to your phone and can send notifications like every other app you’ve got.

Because they’re built on open standards championed by the W3C, web apps already have wide support on other platforms — but Apple embracing PWAs on iOS means your app will just work everywhere. Web developers get access to things like device rotation, offline access, and even push notifications and the whole web wins. Open standards are how we connect the web, letting everyone participate no matter where they are or what kind of device they’re using.

We’re showing off lots of great WebXR apps from the community on, but there’s no shortage of authoring tools either. A-Frame is one of the most intuitive ways to get started with WebXR and they maintain community starters on Glitch. You can remix and get started writing VR right in your HTML. And our friends at Needle have built tools that plug in to Blender and publish standards-based VR and AR scenes ready for the web — you can even publish straight to Glitch!

I still miss the rainbow in Apple’s logo, but when I see them embracing the open web and following amazing work from the developer community it reminds me why I was so excited about the web when I first saw it so many years ago: this is a place we all get to build together. And now it’s easier than ever to do that in a browser, on mobile devices, and in new realities. I can’t wait to see what the Glitch community builds with all this good news coming out of Cupertino.