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Chrome-Style Browser Extensions WebExtensions API for Safari Barely Used by Devs

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Despite Apple announcing the WebExtensions API for Safari, developers aren’t in a rush to build extensions.

Last year, Apple announced it was going to support Chrome-style browser extensions — the WebExtensions API — in Safari. However, since that announcement, we haven’t seen many.

Jason Snell of Six Colors notes that despite the announcement, developers haven’t been paying much attention to Safari’s extensions API:

The answer seems to be largely no — at least, not yet. The Mac App Store’s Safari extensions library seems to be largely populated with the same stuff that was there before Safari 14 was released, though there are some exceptions. […] So in the end, what was the net effect of Apple’s announcement of support for the WebExtensions API in Safari? It’s a work in progress. A very small number of extensions have appeared in the App Store, and it seems quite likely that others will follow at their own pace. Other developers remain utterly unmoved by all the extra work moving to Safari would entail. It strikes me that Apple could rapidly drive adoption of Safari extensions if it would finally bring that technology to iOS. Targeting the Mac is nice, but if they could target iPads and iPhones, we might really have something.

Snell also notes that developers must also adapt their extension for WebKit, join Apple’s $99 USD/year developer program, learn how to use Xcode and App Store Connect, and distribute via the Mac App Store — all of which can be additional barriers of entry.

According to Snell, support for the WebExtensions API in Safari is a gradual work in progress.

“So in the end, what was the net effect of Apple’s announcement of support for the WebExtensions API in Safari? It’s a work in progress,” concludes Snell. “A very small number of extensions have appeared in the App Store, and it seems quite likely that others will follow at their own pace. Other developers remain utterly unmoved by all the extra work moving to Safari would entail.”

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