Apple is bringing sideloading and alternative app stores to the iPhone

-Gudstory

Apple is bringing sideloading and alternative app stores to the iPhone -Gudstory

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The iPhone’s app ecosystem is about to undergo its biggest shakeup since the App Store launched in 2008. Today, Apple announced how it plans to change the rules for developers releasing iOS software in the EU in response to the bloc’s Digital Markets Act. (DMA) is coming into effect in March. The big news is that third-party app stores will be allowed on iOS for the first time, breaking the Apple App Store’s position as the sole distributor of iPhone apps. The changes will come with iOS 17.4 in March.

Here’s how the new “alternative app marketplaces,” as Apple calls them, will work. Users in the EU and on iOS 17.4 will be able to download Marketplace from that Marketplace’s website. To use on an iPhone, those marketplaces have to go through Apple’s approval process, and once you download it, you have to explicitly allow it to download apps to your device. But once the Marketplace is approved and on your device, you can download anything you want – including apps that violate App Store guidelines. You can also set non-App Store marketplaces as the default on your device.

Meanwhile, developers can choose whether to use Apple’s payment services and in-app purchases or integrate a third-party system for payment without paying additional fees to Apple. If the developer wants to stick with Apple’s existing in-app payment system, there’s an additional 3 percent processing fee.

Apple still plans to keep a close eye on the app distribution process. All apps must be “notarized” by Apple, and distribution through third-party marketplaces is still managed by Apple’s systems. Developers will be allowed to distribute only a single version of their app across different app stores, and they will still have to follow some basic platform requirements, such as scanning for malware.

new cost of doing business

Going forward, developers may not pay any commission to Apple in the EU, depending on how they choose to distribute their apps. Apple is making changes to the way its fee structure works, both for newly distributed apps in the App Store and outside of it. Developers can either choose to use these new business terms or stick with the existing model and continue distributing through the App Store as normal.

Under the new terms, apps distributed through the App Store that choose to use alternative payment systems will have to pay 17 percent commission (instead of 30 percent) on digital goods and services. This commission rate drops to 10 percent for any app that currently qualifies for Apple’s lower “small business” rate. An additional 3 percent fee applies for developers who choose to use Apple’s payment processing system.

NFC is being opened up, alternative browser engines are coming, and game streaming is coming globally

The company is also introducing a new type of fee specifically for popular apps. The new core technology fee will charge developers €0.50 (about 54 cents) per annual app install; However, this fee only applies after one million annual installs in the EU. Apple estimates that more than 99 percent of developers will either “reduce or maintain the fees they pay to Apple” under the new business terms and “less than 1 percent” of developers will pay core technology fees.

As well as allowing alternative app stores and payment systems, Apple is also opening up other aspects of the iOS ecosystem in the EU. Alternative browser engines for WebKit will be allowed for the first time, and users will get the option of installing an alternative browser when they open Safari for the first time on iOS 17.4. The App Store is also opening up globally to allow game streaming services, which until now has been restricted under Apple’s existing policies. As the European Commission announced last week, Apple is also preparing to allow developers in the European Economic Area to offer NFC payments in their third-party apps.

DMA effect

These changes are likely to be seized upon by developers who have been critical of Apple’s control over iOS app distribution. Earlier this week, Spotify — a longtime critic of Apple’s 30 percent commission rate — added in-app purchases to its iOS app to let users upgrade subscriptions or purchase audiobooks in the EU after the DMA came into effect. Plan to bring back announced. But it’s not clear whether the company will be happy to continue paying Apple a 17 percent commission if it’s using an alternative payment processor — it already plans to charge a 27 percent commission on alternative payments in the US. Is criticizing.

Passed in 2022, the DMA is the EU’s strongest effort yet to rein in the alleged anti-competitive practices of Big Tech companies, which the regulation refers to as “gatekeeping.” The EU designated Apple as a gatekeeper last September and listed its App Store, Safari browser and iOS operating system as “core platform services” that must comply with DMA rules.

The DMA is the EU’s strongest effort yet to rein in alleged anti-competitive practices by Big Tech companies

Regulation is broad, but includes obligations to allow users to install third-party apps or app stores, uninstall stock apps, and change default services; making big messaging services interoperable with rivals; and restricting gatekeepers from ranking their own products higher than those of third-party competitors in app stores or requiring app developers to use the gatekeeper’s in-app payment system.

As well as designating iOS, Safari and the App Store as core platform services, the European Commission also launched an investigation into whether iMessage should be included (which would include making it interoperable with rivals), But reports suggest it may avoid being named, and Apple’s announcement today makes no mention of changes coming to iMessage.

Along with Apple, the European Commission has also designated Amazon, Meta and Microsoft as well as TikTok parent ByteDance and Google parent Alphabet as gatekeepers under the DMA. Several companies, including Meta, Google, and Microsoft, have publicly announced upcoming changes to their services as a result of the regulation. Along with iOS, Google’s Android operating system has also been designated as a core platform service under the DMA, but it is likely to make fewer changes than iOS as it technically already supports sideloading and Allows third-party app stores (even though its policies around them have proven controversial).

Apple has continued to take cuts when forced to allow third-party payments in the past. In response to a US ruling that Apple must allow links to external payments, the iPhone maker said it would allow developers to link but said it would continue to charge a 27 percent commission (up from 30 percent Against of). A similar approach has been adopted in South Korea and the Netherlands.

We’ll have to wait and see if Apple’s changes, including its new commission rates, will satisfy its biggest critics like Spotify and Epic Games, which have fought hard against the so-called “Apple Tax.” But after years of theoretical debate and tough court arguments, we’re about to find out whether users, at least in the EU, care as much about alternative app stores and payment methods or whether they’ll choose to stick with Apple . -Home options.

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