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Apple is working on Web Push Notifications for iOS and Safari (2023 Update)

  • # push-api
  • # safari

The standard for web push notifications (Push API) is now available on iOS and Safari. You can read more about the history of this feature on Safari in this blog post, which has received multiple updates, from the first rumors in 2021 to the release of the feature on iOS in 2023.

Update (February 2023): the Push API is now available on iOS 16.4 beta 1

One of the most awaited improvements to the Web Push ecosystem is finally here.

iOS, and Safari on iOS in particular, were the last major browsers that did not support the standard for web push notifications: however today, 16 February 2023, the beta release of iOS supports the standard.

This means that Web Push is a mature technology supported by all browsers.

You can also read the official announcement on the WebKit blog.

From the announcement it seems that support, at least for now, comes with some important limitations:

A web app that has been added to the Home Screen can request permission to receive push notifications as long as that request is in response to direct user interaction — such as tapping on a ‘subscribe’ button provided by the web app.

Basically you first need to convince the user to add the web app to the Home Screen and then you also need a user interaction to trigger the permission prompt. This will obviously limit the number of subscribers that you can collect from iOS, however we hope to see less strict requirements in the future.

Update (October 2022): the Push API is now supported by Safari on MacOS

Safari 16 on MacOS Ventura supports the Push API.

This means that you can finally send push notifications to Safari using a standard technology, already supported by all major browsers, instead of the legacy Apple protocol.

The release of this feature and the new Apple push service (web.push.apple.com) confirm that Apple is actively working on this and that we can expect to see the same feature on iOS very soon (probably in the first months of 2023).

You can also read this related article about the Push API on Safari.

Update (June 2022): Web Push Notifications on iOS 16 and Safari are officially confirmed

During the WWDC, in June 2022, Apple unveiled a preview of iOS 16.

In particular Safari on iOS 16 will support web push notifications (Push API), as confirmed by the Apple website.

Web push notifications
Adds support for opt‑in notifications on iOS. Coming in 2023.

iOS 16 Preview - New Features - Apple Website

Moreover the WebKit issue has been closed as "Resolved Fixed": this confirms that Safari on desktop will also support the standard for web push notifications (i.e. it will support the Push API instead of the proprietary APNs protocol).

Update (February 2022): Web Push Notifications on iOS are experimental

It's February 2022 and there aren't any official announcements from Apple. However some rumors confirm our expectations: Apple is testing Web Notifications and the Push API on Safari for iOS.

In particular, on iOS 15.4 you can go to Settings, Safari, Advanced, Experimental features and you will see a list of "Experimental WebKit Features". In particular there is now an option for "Built-in Web Notifications" and one for the "Push API". At the moment they are both turned off by default. Since the official release notes don't mention them, we might need to wait some more months, until iOS 16 is released.

Original post (October 2021)

Currently there isn't any official announcement from Apple, however we have noticed some activity in the WebKit bug tracker that clearly suggests that Apple is implementing the Push API in Safari.

This is a big step forward, after years of inactivity on this feature.

Check out this bug in particular:

231008 - Add support for ServiceWorkerGlobalScope push event handler

It's October 2021 and the status has changed to RESOLVED FIXED. There is also an attachment with the source code (which implements this part of the W3C spec in Safari: https://w3c.github.io/push-api/#receiving-a-push-message).

This means that Web Push will be available in the future versions of Safari, although we don't know which version yet.

This feature has been requested to Apple for a long time: hundreds of developers have signed the petition and actively contacted Apple using the WebKit bug tracker.

When this feature will be available in Safari, Pushpad will be certainly the first to support this (as we already did for other browsers, like Chrome in 2015, Firefox in 2016, Edge in 2017, etc.).

We are really excited because the notifications for Safari (in particular on iOS) are one of the most requested features of all time. Safari on iOS represents 50% of mobile traffic in the US! There will be a significant increase in the number of subscribers for all websites that use web push notifications. It will also become possible to use Web Push Notifications as a primary method for keeping in touch with users, not just for engagement, but also for more important notifications.

Also, if the Push API will be implemented also in Safari desktop, as we expect, there won't be the need to use the proprietary APNs protocol (which has been for a long time the only method for sending notifications to Safari desktop). This means that it will be even simpler to send notifications to Safari, you won't need to sign up as an Apple Developer, you won't need to renew your Safari push certificates, and notifications to Safari will be more reliable (since the standard Push API is much better compared to the legacy method invented by Apple almost 10 years ago).

We'll keep monitoring the repository and the news and we'll post some updates: don't forget to subscribe to the notifications! You can also monitor the feature request yourself in the official bug tracker.