To comply with European Union regulations, Apple has introduced sweeping changes that make iOS and Apple’s other operating systems more open, ArsTechnica reported. The changes are far-reaching and touch many parts of the user experience on the iPhone. They’ll be coming as part of iOS 17.4 in March.
Apple will introduce “new APIs and tools that enable developers to offer their iOS apps for download from alternative app marketplaces,” as well as a new framework and set up and manage those stores – essentially new forms of apps that can download other apps without going through the App Store. That includes the ability to manage updates for other developers’ apps that are distributed through the marketplaces.
According to ArsTechnica, the company will also offer API’s and a new framework for third-party web browsers to use browser engines other than Safari’s WebKit. Until now, browsers like Chrome and Firefox were still built on top of Apple’s tech. They essentially were mobile Safari, but with bookmarks and other features tied to alternative desktop browsers.
The Platform Law Blog reported that Apple made an important announcement regarding changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store in the European Union in response to the Digital Markets Act (“DMA”).
…With the adoption of DMA, Apple is forced to modify its model, but it does it with rage (the announcement is combative and shows Apple’s distaste for the will of the EU legislator) and in a largely unsatisfactory manner.
The Platform Law Blog noted that Apple offers new alternative business terms for iOS apps in the EU:
Reduced commission – iOS apps on the App Store will pay a reduced commission of either 10% (for the vast majority of developers and for subscriptions after their first year), or 17% on transactions for digital goods and services, regardless of payment processing system selected.
Payment Processing fee – iOS apps on the App Store can use the App Store’s payment processing for an additional 3% fee. Developers can use a Payment Service Provider within their app or link users to a website to process payments for no additional fee from Apple.
Core Technology Fee (CTF) – For very high volume iOS apps distributed from the App Store and/or an alternative app marketplace, developers will pay €0.50 for each first annual install per year over a 1 million threshold. Under the new business terms for EU apps, Apple estimates that less than 1% of developers would pay a Core Technology Fee on their EU apps.
The Register reported today that Apple’s browser engine concession isn’t entirely without barbs. As Mozilla has observed, it doesn’t apply to iPadOS and so Mozilla needs to bear the costs of maintaining two versions of Firefox in the EU.
According to The Register, while legal experts expect the EU to challenge Apple’s insincere compliance with the DMA, developers should take this opportunity to rethink their native app serfdom. They should push web apps to their limits and then demand further platform improvement.
In my opinion, it sounds to me like Apple really does not want to comply with the EU’s decisions. I would not be surprised if Apple faces legal issues over its choices.