Apple TV — A World Without Webviews – AppleTV 4 Jailbreak (

The new Apple TV’s operating system, tvOS , has some differences from iOS 9, but one of the most startling ones is the removal of support for webviews. These are used throughout the industry for a wide range of purposes, the most obvious of which is to display a website from within your app.

Webviews are found on every major platform out there: OS X, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, etc. Generally speaking, most major browsers, such as Safari and Chrome are applications built around a webview. The menus and buttons let you interact with the app, navigate to different sites, etc., but the actual heavy lifting of the browser (e.g., showing you what’s on is rendered in the main content pane of the app in an embedded webview.

Webkit is the framework that Apple uses to allow developers to include webviews in their apps. UIWebview, a UIKit class, provides a simple way to do so. Both of these are missing from tvOS.

Even though the classes exist to fetch a page from a remote site, nothing else is really there — the content has to be parsed, the DOM has to be built, the actual HTML has to be rendered and styled, and any embedded Javascript has to be run.

There’s no mechanism for doing any of these things or presenting the Web page to the users.

OK, so what does that mean?

No Internet Browsing

If you’re looking at Twitter and someone you follow posts a link, you can click on it and the app will create a webview, load the link in the webview, and show it to you. You get to check out links quickly without ever having to leave the app. The Facebook app uses webviews for the same purpose. And that’s practically the sole reason why apps like NetNewsWire exist in the first place.

That kind of functionality won’t be happening here.

A Lot of Broken Applications and a Lot of New Code

Webviews are the Duct tape of the mobile world. I’d estimate that 50 to 80 percent of the major apps out there use webviews somewhere within their apps. Apple’s Mail app uses webviews for your email messages, because webviews can style and render the content very efficiently. NetNewsWire uses them prolifically, particularly in a few features we haven’t enabled in the shipping version yet.

The thing about a webview is that although it’s not as good as a native view, it can still be pretty darn good. If you’re a big company trying to roll out apps for iOS, Android, and the desktop browser, you’re going to have three different teams belting out code like crazy for each platform.

Taking a select subset of your app’s views and making them webviews lets you cheat a little. You have a sports company that’s rolling out dedicated apps for each platform, but the batter’s box you show in all of them is actually an embedded Web page. Or you have a social networking app, and the user registration page…