Good news for anyone who’d prefer tapping into Apple Pay for an online transaction: it might become available to use within browsers besides Apple’s Safari. MacRumors contributor, Steve Moser, discovered an Apple Pay button in both Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge in the latest iOS 16 beta, leading us to believe it will become an option for more third-party browsers.
Moser tweeted screenshots showing the Apple Pay button on both Edge and Chrome, confirming some previous rumblings on Reddit about the ability sprouting up for developers and other users. Indeed, I was able to bring up Apple Pay on an iPhone 13 Pro running the latest beta of iOS 16. I tried it on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and even DuckDuckGo. The Apple Pay option sprouted up for me in all three instances, and I even got as far as the payment pop-up on the screen. (No, I did not buy the AirTag I added to my basket to try this out.)
You might be wondering: why is this a big deal, anyway? It’s just a payment method made available in other browsers. There’s speculation that this particular feature change is Apple’s response to antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice and the EU. Apple Pay is only available on mobile Safari with iOS 15 or earlier devices, and it’s limited through Safari because it relies on Apple’s WebKit rendering engine. But that means that only one particular mobile browser can access Apple Pay, potentially catching the eye of regulators.
Though we owe the surfacing of this particular news to 9to5Mac, it’s The Register that reminds us of the anti-trust link. A report back from April spotted a requirement in a draft copy of Europe’s Digital Markets Act, which passed last month in the EU and will become law next year. One particularly relevant part of the legislation points to “gatekeepers” that “operate and impose browser engines,” which is exactly why Apple Pay has to open up to other mobile browsers. Browsers on iOS are built on WebKit because of its iOS-specific privacy and security features. The relevant section from the draft bill doesn’t appear in the final legislation but it’s possible its previous inclusion was enough to rattle Apple devs into taking action.
One thing to note is that macOS beta users don’t seem to have access to Apple Pay beyond Safari. Moser notes in a follow-up tweet that it’s likely because the desktop operating system allows third-party engines on its platform, so it doesn’t technically fall into the bucket of “gatekeeping.”
Apple hasn’t publicly confirmed the change, and didn’t immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. Anyway, if this ability goes live in the public release of iOS 16 this fall, it will make it easier for users to opt-in to using Apple Pay. It’ll be interesting to see if other browsers can access virtual cards, though only mobile Safari is currently on the roster to receive the feature.