iOS Needs Electron

The iOS experience for many apps compared to other platforms is beginning to suffer because of a lack of feature parity because iOS does not have support for Electron.

What is Electron?

Electron is an API for applications available on Windows, macOS, and Linux that allows developers to leverage HTML, JavaScript, and CSS (web development technologies) to create a rich, cross-platform experience for users. There are many popular applications that use Electron, including Visual Studio Code, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Skype (consumer product), and Discord.

How to Bring Electron to iOS

The Apple’s App Store has significant restrictions that are meant to protect the trust in the platform. Electron has the ability to subvert that framework by allowing backend changes to circumvent the review process. How can Electron be brought to the platform?

By Apple

Apple could incorporate Electron into the existing development platforms. This does not mean it has to be out of the box (OOTB) support, but the closer that experience can be to OOTB the greater the inclination of developers to use it. Apple could make a wrapper within the current platforms that sit on top of the Safari web browser, whereas Electron has relied on Chromium. Since Safari is the only web browser on iOS (other web browsers implement Safari, including Chrome, Opera, etc).

By Electron

As mentioned, Electron implements Chromium for a consistent experience. Electron could include capabilities to support Safari to operate within iOS. Many apps implement Safari capabilities. An app could then be written that relies on Safari and the supported functions that Electron implements to support the platform.

Summary

These are easier said than done, but by allowing for Electron to be implemented on iOS, apps can be more readily provided on the platform. Existing apps, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, lag behind or require significant effort to maintain parity with the Electron equivalents that support Windows, macOS, and Linux. Further, some apps simply do not exist on iOS, like Visual Studio Code.

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