Apple Developers can now port their Google Chrome extensions to Safari

Safari redesigned in macOS Big Sur
Safari redesigned in macOS Big Sur

At WWDC 2020, Apple unveiled the next big chapter for the Mac with macOS Big Sur and of course, the transition to Apple silicon from Intel chips. With macOS Big Sur, Apple introduced some worthy additions to its web browser Safari.

Web developers can now easily port their existing extensions from other web browsers like Google Chrome to Safari. It’s a welcome addition as it’s evident that Google Chrome’s popularity is not going to go away anytime soon. Most developers put their efforts in building for Chrome while ignoring other browsers because a tiny percentage of the population uses them.

By introducing the option of bringing pre-existing extensions to Safari, Apple is making it easier for developers to support its browser as well. A lot of web extensions are not available on Safari and this move could bring Apple’s web browser in the loop.

macOS and iOS already support extensions but they work a little differently. Apple allows something called “share extensions” which basically requires an app. “These are great if you’re a native app developer already familiar with Swift or Objective-C,” says Safari engineer Ellie Epskamp-Hunt.

Whereas Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and other browsers in the market rely on web technologies like HTML, CSS, JavaScript to allow developers to create extensions. The implementation is much simpler compared to Apple’s Safari which can seem a little complicated. However, starting with macOS Big Sur and Xcode 12, developers will be able to easily port their extensions to Safari from other browsers.

Xcode 12 will feature an extension converter that will help developers port their extensions to Safari with ease. Of course, there will be some difference between browsers, so the extension converter will show how the extension will run on Safari.

Developers will be able to package it, sign it, and submit it for publishing on the Mac App Store.

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