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Here's what happens to your iPhone's alternative App Store when you leave the EU

You'll need to stay in the EU to keep access to your third-party app store.
By

Published onMarch 6, 2024

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TL;DR
  • The release of iOS 17.4 gives iPhone owners in the EU the ability to use third-party app stores.
  • Apple says that if owners leave the EU for too long, certain third-party features will stop working.
  • Apps downloaded from alternative app stores will still work, but they won’t be able to update through the marketplace it was downloaded from.

Yesterday, Apple began rolling out iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4, which opened up the doors for iPhone and iPad owners within the European Union to use alternative app stores. Although EU customers can now access third-party alternatives, it looks like that permission will only exist as long as they stay in EU countries.

On its support page about alternative app marketplaces, Apple details how it will approach the use of third-party app stores in the EU. The company explains in the availability section that device eligibility for alternative app marketplaces is “determined by using on-device processing.” In the following paragraph, however, the firm says these users won’t retain that eligibility if they leave the EU for too long:

If you leave the European Union for short-term travel, you’ll continue to have access to alternative app marketplaces for a grace period. If you’re gone for too long, you’ll lose access to some features, including installing new alternative app marketplaces. Apps you installed from alternative app marketplaces will continue to function, but they can’t be updated by the marketplace you downloaded them from.

Apple mentions that users will lose access to third-party app stores, and apps won’t be able to update through those stores either. It’s unclear what other features users will lose out on if they take a trip outside of the EU for too long. The Cupertino firm also fails to specify how long the “grace period” for using alternative app stores outside of the EU will be.

While leaving the EU for too long will result in no longer having access to third-party app stores, at least apps downloaded from those stores will continue to work.

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