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iPadOS will support third-party app stores in the EU later this year

iPadOS is getting the iPhone treatment in the EU this fall, following the iPad's classification as a gatekeeper platform.

Published onMay 3, 2024

iPad Pro 11 M1 back
Palash Volvoikar / Android Authority
  • Apple will support third-party app stores on iPadOS in the EU later this year to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
  • EU-based iPadOS users will also get to opt for third-party, non-WebKit browser engines and be prompted to pick a default web browser.
  • Apple has also tweaked its Core Technology Fee (CTF) policy to avoid bankrupting indie developers and those not making revenue from their apps.

A few days ago, the EU designated iPadOS as a gatekeeper platform, giving Apple six months to comply with the Digital Markets Act. To avoid getting fined or leaving the EU market, the Cupertino firm will comply this fall by allowing third-party app stores on the iPad — likely via the iPadOS 18 update.

Through a post on its developer website, Apple announced that it would bring the EU-exclusive iOS features to iPadOS this fall. These features include support for third-party app stores, app distribution through the web, third-party, non-WebKit browser engines, a default web browser prompt, third-party contactless payments, and more.

iPadOS app developers who ditch the official App Store in favor of third-party means will be subject to the same CTF present on iOS in the EU. This means they will have to pay an annual fee per installation count. To avoid bankrupting indie and nonprofit app developers, Apple has also tweaked its CTF policy.

So now app developers that make no revenue won’t have to pay Apple the CTF at all. Additionally, small developers receive a 3-year free on-ramp to the CTF to help them strategize and grow their business first. Otherwise, developers who want to avoid the CTF altogether can stick to Apple’s original terms (and fees) and distribute through its App Store exclusively.

While Apple doesn’t specify when exactly these EU-only changes will roll out, it’s safe to assume it will be around mid-September when iPadOS 18 launches to the public. Alternatively, the company could release an iPadOS 17.x update in the fall to bring third-party app stores to even more iPad models, but this is the less likely scenario.

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