Apple to Open Up iPhones to Third-Party App Stores in EU
On January 27th, IT之家 reported that Apple announced in a press release that it will allow sideloading of apps, third-party app stores, and non-WebKit engine browsers in 27 EU member countries starting in March this year.
According to MacRumors, the following details summarize the new regulations:
The Digital Markets Act requires Apple to make modifications to iOS and the App Store. The EU Commission defines iOS as the operating system running on iPhones and the App Store as a cross-platform entity running on all Apple operating systems.
As a result, some alterations will be exclusive to iPhones, while others will apply to iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
Adjustments exclusive to iPhones regarding third-party app stores:
Third-party app stores will only be available for iPhones and not for iPads. Therefore, users in Europe will not be able to install third-party app stores on iPads or download apps offered by third-party app stores on iPads. These third-party app stores will only be accessible on iPhones.
App review for third-party app stores applies to iOS apps but not to iPadOS apps.
Alternative Browser Engines
Users in Europe will be restricted to using non-WebKit engine browsers on iPhones only. For instance, in Europe, users will only be able to use the Chrome browser with the Blink engine on iPhones and not be able to use non-WebKit engine browsers on iPads.
Banking and wallet apps on iPhones will have access to NFC technology, allowing users to set other contactless payment apps as the default option.
Changes to Apple’s App Stores for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS
The new business terms include core technology fees and reduced App Store commissions, applicable across all platforms.
Developers can opt out of in-app purchases and instead use third-party payment service providers to sell digital goods and services.
App Store Labels
When an app uses alternative payment methods, it will be disclosed on the App Store product page and within the app, warning customers that the developer is guiding them to use alternative payment methods for transactions.
External Payment Links
Developers can provide a link for users to complete transactions on the developer’s website and also to learn about promotions, discounts, and offers outside of their app.
Default App Stores
In compliance with the DMA, European iPhone users can set third-party app stores as the default on their device. Besides appearing in Spotlight search results, this feature does not serve any other purpose.
Requirements for Third-Party App Stores
To establish a third-party app store, developers need to provide Apple with a 1 million Euro credit, demonstrating their solvency.
Developers looking to create a third-party app store must establish a presence in the EU. The core technology fee for installing third-party app stores will be paid by the individual apps and not by the third-party app stores themselves.
Installation of Third-Party App Stores
App stores can be installed through Safari or other web browsers, downloading the apps offered by third-party app store developers.
Limitations and Functions of Third-Party App Stores
Third-party app stores will be compatible with iOS core functions, visible in Spotlight search, compatible with most Screen Time features, and included in iCloud backups.
However, the “Screen Time” and “Family Sharing” features will not apply to apps installed from third-party app stores.
Apple will not promote other app stores nor present them as user choices. Third-party app stores will need to do their own marketing, as Apple will not support users in terms of refunds or subscription management tools.
Managing Third-Party App Stores
If a third-party app store is deleted from an iPhone, apps installed through it will not be able to update until the third-party app store is reinstalled.
European users can view the source of the app from which a third-party app store was downloaded in the Settings app.
Adoption of Apple’s New Business Terms
Once developers choose Apple’s new business terms, including the core technology fee and reduced commissions, they cannot revert to the previous system; this is a one-time change.
Notarization and Review
While notarization will scan for malware and viruses and ensure app behavior consistency, Apple’s control over content will decrease. Copyright infringement, intellectual property theft, and other violations need to be reported to the respective third-party app stores, not to Apple.
Developers can use TestFlight to test apps developed for third-party app stores, even if those apps will not be published through the App Store.
The NFC changes apply to European Economic Area (EEA) countries, not just to EU countries. The EEA also includes non-EU countries like Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway.