Safari Declines to Implement Web USB and 15 Other APIs, Mentions User Privacy Risk


Apple has declined to implement 16 Web APIs in Safari browser, in part. They have mentioned that these APIs may pose a privacy risk for users.

These APIs include :

  • Web Bluetooth API — can connect browser to Bluetooth devices
  • Web NFC API — can connect browser to NFC devices
  • Device Memory API — can measure the amount of device's memory
  • Network Information API — can give information on current network information of the device
  • Web USB API — can connect browser to USB devices
  • User Idle Detection API — can detect whether user is lying idle
  • And 10 other APIs

Apple tells that these APIs can be used by online advertisers to fingerprint users. Fingerprinting in short means that users could be separately identified, and then advertisers could show them targeted ads, or perform analytics on the data.

This may be true, but this is a disappointing news. All these APIs are pretty powerful, and can give sufficient power to the browser to behave like a native app. The Web USB API for example, can be used by a website to allow user login only if he plugs in a specific USB device. This can be a pretty powerful functionality.

However as told, Apple has not rejected implementing these APIs completely, but only a few sub-sections of them. They have also clarified that if these APIs were to reduce fingerprinting opportunities, they would reconsider including them in Safari.

We hope that browsers vendors may reach to a mutual agreement, and these APIs could be cross-browser compatible.

Read official post by Webkit


July 2, 2020


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