In September 2023, the European Union declared Apple as one of the gatekeepers. As part of the DMA, the EU directed the company to make changes to its App Store to enable the sideloading of apps and allow third-party payments. The deadline for Apple, along with other companies, is March 7, 2024. However, as of January 25, 2024, Apple has already responded to the directives.
iOS 17.4 Beta To Include All The Upcoming Changes
On Thursday, Apple announced iOS 17.4 beta, which contains the necessary changes for developers, in compliance with the DMA’s directive.
- New options for distributing iOS apps from alternative app marketplaces, including new APIs and tools that enable developers to offer their iOS apps from alternative app marketplaces.
- New framework and APIs for creating alternative app marketplaces will enable marketplace developers to install apps and manage updates from their dedicated marketplace app on behalf of other developers.
- iOS 17.4 will enable developers to use browser engines other than WebKit for browser apps and apps with in-app browsing experience.
- Developers can also submit additional requests for interoperability with iPhone and iOS hardware and software features.
Steps For Mitigating Security And Privacy Risks To Users
In the official press release, Apple mentions that the changes create new risks to users and their devices, which the company can’t eliminate. However, the company has taken the following steps to reduce the risks within DMA’s constraints.
- Notarization (automated and human review) for iOS apps: a baseline review that applies to all apps, regardless of their distribution channel.
- App installation sheets, which provide at-a-glance descriptions of apps and their functionality before download.
- Authorization for marketplace developers to ensure marketplace developers commit to ongoing requirements.
- Additional malware protections that prevent iOS apps from opening on users’ devices after being installed.
Safari To Open On A Choice-Screen
Per DMA’s requirement, Apple has also added a new choice screen that will surface when users open Safari in iOS 17.4 for the first time. The screen will prompt users to choose a default browser from a list of available options. Apple mentions that the change “interrupts EU users’ experience the first time they open Safari intending to navigate to a webpage,” which indicates the company’s unhappiness with the directives.
Following Are The Changes Coming To The App Store
- New options for using payment service providers within an app.
- New options for processing payments via the developer’s external website, outside of the App Store. Developers can also inform EU users of promotions, discounts, and other offers on their portals outside the apps.
- Business planning tools for helping developers to estimate fees related to Apple’s new business terms.
The company won’t provide post-sales services for apps that don’t use Apple’s payment processing, such as issuing refunds or addressing issues or fraud.
Apple Will Charge A Core Technology Fee From Apps Distributed Via An Alternative Marketplace
Apple has announced new business terms for developers in the European Union, who can choose to adopt the new terms or stick with existing ones. However, sideloading is only available with the new terms.
- iOS apps on the App Store will pay a reduced commission of either 10 percent or 17 percent on transactions for digital goods and services.
- iOS apps can use the App Store’s payment processing for an additional three percent fee. However, developers can use a payment service provider within their app or link users to an external website for no extra fee. For apps on iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS, developers using a PSP will get a three percent discount on Apple’s commission.
- iOS apps distributed from or outside the App Store will pay EUR 0.50 “for each first annual install per year over a 1 million threshold.”