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Apple will soon allow rival app stores on its platform in the EU

The changes mark the biggest shake up in Apple's ecosystem in a long time.

Published onJanuary 25, 2024

Apple iPhone 14 logo
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
  • Apple has announced sweeping changes coming to the iPhone for users in the EU.
  • For the first time, Apple will allow third-party app stores on its platform.
  • The changes will come in March 2024.

Apple’s ecosystem is about to go through a groundbreaking change in the EU due to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). For the first time, Apple will allow rivals to the App Store to appear on its platform.

Apple has announced sweeping changes coming to its “core platform services” as identified by the DMA. These services include iOS, Safari, and the App Store.

Until now, the only way to download apps onto your iPhone or iPad was to use Apple’s App Store or sideload them illegally. However, this March, users in the EU will have the option to download and use third-party app stores instead. This capability will arrive when the iOS 17.4 update rolls out.

Once the update is installed, people in the EU will be able to set an alternative app store as their default store. These changes don’t just affect the App Store either. Users will also be prompted to choose if they want Safari to be their default browser or not. While you can already make this choice, the new thing here is the prompt. On top of that, users will also be able to pick their default payment option of choice.

While all of this is happening for users in countries that are a part of the EU, almost nothing is changing for users in other regions. The key word is “almost” as the Cupertino firm did announce at least one change for users globally. Apple is now opening up the App Store for game streaming services, like those offered by Xbox and NVIDIA.

With Apple’s ecosystem opening up in a way unlike ever before, there are increased risks for user privacy and security. For example, there’s a greater chance of downloading malware through a third-party app store. To help minimize some of the risks involved, iOS 17.4 will introduce certain protections.

One of these protections will be the notarization of iOS apps. According to the tech giant, notarization is a baseline review of all apps, regardless of their distribution channel.

The final thing Apple announced is that there will be some consequences that come with the new changes. Specifically, developers will get reduced commission, developers will now pay a new processing fee, and developers will have to pay a €0.50 core technology fee for each first annual install per year over a 1 million threshold.

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