In order to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple announced today that it will be implementing changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store in the European Union with the release of iOS 17.4. Among the most significant changes brought about by iOS 17.4 is the addition of the ability to download apps from third-party app stores, also known as sideloading. Below are all the changes that Apple has announced thus far.
Sideloading Will be Available To iPhones with iOS 17.4
In a blog post, Apple announced that it is bringing new options for distributing iOS apps from alternative app stores in Europe. Developers can use new APIs and tools that will allow them to offer apps from third-party app stores or “alternative app marketplaces” as Apple refers to it. Third-party app stores will also be able to use new frameworks and APIs to install and manage app updates on behalf of developers hosting their apps on their platforms. Previously, it was reported that Apple would charge developers for sideloading apps.
That being said, Apple recently announced that it would only charge developers a meager €0.50 Core Technology Fee for each first annual install annually over a threshold of one million iOS apps. All apps distributed through the App Store or any other third-party app store will be subject to this fee.
Reduced App Store Commissions
As Apple has found itself surrounded by antitrust lawsuits, in order to appease regulators, Apple has announced that it is reducing its commissions from 30$ to 10% or 17% on transactions for digital goods and services. This step will surely boost the morale of developers who often accuse Apple of charging hefty commissions.
External Payment Options in App Store
Apple is changing its App Store guidelines in response to the court ruling that it must permit users to select third-party payment options provided by app developers within the app. Specifically, developers can now process payments from within the app and without accessing the App Store. Additionally, developers can notify EU users of promotions, discounts, and deals that are available outside the app. Previously, Apple forbade developers from displaying offers and deals on apps that would require users to visit any external website. Additionally, Apple will not impose commissions on external payment systems.
Choice of Default Browser
Starting with iOS 17.4, Apple will allow users in Europe to choose a browser other than Safari as their default browser. Upon installing iOS 17.4, when users will open Safari, they will be presented with a choice screen that will allow them to choose the default browser from the list of options available.
While Apple has overhauled App Store guidelines and Safari to comply with DMA, it reiterates that Apple will now have less control over apps that can scam or abuse customers. It further mentions that apps that use browser engines other than Apple’s own WebKit might result in a negative user experience “including impacts to system performance and battery life“.