Apple kept quiet about one rather glaring omission from the new Apple TV: you can’t use it to surf the web. At least, not as you’d expect to.
That’s because while the new streaming box supports third-party apps, it doesn’t support webviews, which let you leave the app content and view a web page when you click a link.
So if you’re scrolling through the Twitter app on Apple TV, and you click a link someone’s posted, you won’t be able to see the web page in a webview.
Presumably you can work around this using AirPlay with your iPhone. And developers will find other ways to take you to external sites. But it’s a hassle nonetheless.
Why would Apple do this? It’s notoriously pernickety about wanting to control the user experience, and some gestures like pinch to zoom aren’t supported in webviews. It’s also likely it wants to stamp out shoddy apps that basically serve as a wrapper for web content, and encourage apps that are in keeping with the ecosystem.
The last reason is security. Locking it down with no webviews makes the streaming box less likely to encounter any nasty viruses.
As Pasco notes, “For a lot of companies, the absence of webview support on tvOS is going to be painful. It’s going to require custom rewrites of those web-based widgets and views in either native code of TVML, just to support the Apple TV.”
Nobody said it would be easy. But as long as it makes for a slicker experience, we’re not complaining.