Following a series of related but unsurprising decisions, Apple’s App Store will begin to allow third-party stores in the EU. In a release from the company on January 25th, Apple announced that they would begin to allow 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics, alternative browsers, and options for processing app payments and distributing apps. In their release, Apple passively attacked the move, which was pushed for under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).
A spokesperson for Apple, Phil Schiller, stated: “The changes we’re announcing today comply with the Digital Markets Act’s requirements in the European Union while helping to protect EU users from the unavoidable increased privacy and security threats this regulation brings. Our priority remains creating the best, most secure possible experience for our users in the EU and around the world.”
The sort of security risks the company appears to be warning about need to be clarified. In particular, Apple appears to concede that the company will still mitigate this risk as it will continue to allegedly approve the marketplaces it chooses to permit under this pressure.
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Developers will have more choice
Developers are rallying behind the decision as overall it drastically changes the relationship that Apple has with developers. Until now, developers were forced to sell on the App Store if they were to market to iPhone users and were forced to accept terms with respect to revenue sharing (vis-à-vis through app store managed payments) that have been derided as unfair.
New browsers coming to iOS
Starting with iOS 17.4, users in the EU will be able to select a different browser (their default one) that may differ from Safari. Apple describes this as “confronting,” relating it to a negative experience. Many users that we have spoken to, have stated this is something they have waited for and welcome the chance at using alternatives like Chrome.
Apple Pay changes
In addition to App payments, the company is opening the capability for third-party applications to use the NFC hardware for transactions. This new functionality is said to allow banking applications and other services to use API’s enabling new capabilities in mobile wallet platforms.
Improved game streaming options
Apple announced they would allow for expanded game streaming options in iOS related to this announcement. These new capabilities include the ability for a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog. This is purported to open the door to major services like Microsoft’s cloud streaming platform, which Microsoft had previously enabled through the browser.
Deadline for implementation
The Digital Markets Act imposed a deadline to implement these changes: March 6th, 2024. While Apple will comply in a timely manner, we expect there will be some growing/adjustment pains in the transition.