Apple gears up for third-party app stores by 2024

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Apple is reportedly gearing up for changes to European Union law coming into effect in 2024 and preparing for third-party app stores to exist on iPhone and iPad.

The adoption of the EU Digital Markets Act will bring major changes for app marketplace operators such as Apple, in particular by allowing third-party app stores to exist on iPhone and iPad. Apple is said to be preparing to comply with the upcoming rule changes.

Engineers at Apple's software and services groups are allegedly pushing to open up a number of key parts of Apple's platforms to ensure future compliance, people familiar with the work told Bloomberg Tuesday.

The Digital Markets Act applies to companies that provide browsers, messaging services or social media to at least 45 million end users per month in the EU. At the same time, they must have 10,000 business users per year, a market capitalization of at least 75 billion euros ($82 billion) or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion euros ($8.2 billion).

The EU is expected to announce which companies are classified as gatekeepers that must comply with the rules in the spring of 2023, giving them six months to comply with the law. Because of Apple's size and vast customer base, it's almost certain that Apple will be part of that group.

The report claims that the changes will allow third-party app stores to be used without the App Store itself. This will allow apps to avoid Apple's various App Store security and safety restrictions, as well as the 30% store fee it collects.

It is reported that Andreas Wendker, Vice President reporting to Craig Federighi, and CTO Jeff Robbin reporting to Eddie Cue are involved in the promotion.

Apple is also said to be putting “a significant amount of resources” into this work, although some engineers seem to feel that this is a distraction from feature development.

Feature changes are expected to arrive in the iOS 17 update.

Just in Case” Move

A report that claims that Apple is working to comply with the law in the area in which it does business makes sense from a preparatory point of view. Apple starting to develop the ability to download apps from other sources outside of the App Store is clearly being done to comply with EU laws requiring it.

Apple will likely fight this requirement until the day it becomes mandatory. The company has often called alternative stores and jailbreaks a security threat to users, and it is unlikely that it will change its attitude towards this position.

Apple's development of a solution to prepare for the future does not mean that it will see the light of day. It also doesn't mean that this ability will be available worldwide.

If he succeeds in his fight, he probably won't start at all.

That's not all folks

Though App Store and third party load will be the biggest scalp that Apple's critics will demand from changes to the Digital Markets Act, there are a number of other provisions that Apple will also have to deal with.

For example, Apple will have to make changes to enable third-party payment platforms rather than its own in-app payment system.

It will also need to expose its various services and features to others, such as allowing app integrations with iMessage or setting another default digital assistant instead of Siri.

In addition, there is access to hardware features that are usually limited or blocked for applications. This may include providing more access to the iPhone's NFC system, allowing alternative wallet and payment apps to compete with Apple Pay directly on the iPhone itself.

There may be changes that prevent Apple from prioritizing its own apps over others, such as minimizing how Apple can promote Apple Music or Apple Arcade in the App Store.

Other restrictions on default apps and enforcement of certain frameworks or browser engines may also be removed in accordance with the same changes.

Apple has a strong incentive to comply. Those who violate the DMA rules face a fine of up to 10% of their annual global turnover.

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