Apple introduced macOS 11 Big Sur earlier this week and talked about some of the improvements for Safari. In addition to native extensions, Apple is adding support for web extensions. It will make it much easier to port an existing Chrome, Firefox or Edge extension. The company shared more details about how it will work at a WWDC session. Safari already supports extensions, but if you’re using Safari, you know that there aren’t many extensions available. On iOS and macOS, you can install content blockers and apps that have a sharing extension. Content blockers allow you to provide a list of content to be blocked when loading web pages, such as crawlers and ads.
On macOS, developers can also take advantage of application extensions. 1Password uses this to integrate your password manager with Safari.
These are great if you’re a native app developer already familiar with Swift or Objective-CSafari engineer Ellie Epskamp-Hunt
Unlike other Safari plugins, Native apps are filled with web plugins built for Safari. That means developers will be uploading updates to the App Store. Users will download an extension-lending app. There’s nothing to do with the application, it can be just a placeholder.
Apple is sending a converter to port your extension more easily. Once you run it, it will tell you if it will work as planned. You will then bundle it into a file with Xcode, sign it and upload it to the App Store.
Such extensions require one lot of permissions. Essentially, they will see all of the web sites you visit. That’s why Apple allows you to limit extensions to certain pages, or even working tabs. You can even opt to trigger an extension for one day so it won’t remain activated indefinitely.
The first time you try an extension to access a site, the user will receive a warning tag, and before activating the extension, Safari’s settings will have a large warning banner that can access all of your browsing data.
These changes could mean that there will be some more changes in Safari in the future. Many Chrome users don’t want to leave Chrome because they can’t find the same extension. If developers choose to move their extensions to Safari, Apple can persuade more users to move to Safari.