Apple announces changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store in the European Union

In a significant move, Apple has announced a series of changes to iOS, Safari and the App Store, specifically to adapt to the demands of the European Union (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA). These changes, which include more than 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics, and alternatives for payment processing and app distribution on iOS, reflect an effort to align Apple’s practices with European regulations, while safeguarding the security and privacy of users.

Apple, by adapting its applications to the demands of the DMA, balances the necessary changes in iOS with the protection and privacy of users.

Changes for developers: Flexibility and challenges

For developers, flexibility comes with the introduction of new methods for distributing and monetizing applications. These options include alternative marketplaces for iOS apps, use of browser engines other than WebKit, and an interoperability request form to access specific features of iPhone and iOS hardware and software.

Notarization and authorization: Safeguards in new terrain

Aware of the potential risks that such freedoms could bring, such as malware, fraud, and illicit content, Apple has implemented protective measures. iOS app notarization provides a basic review focused on platform integrity and user protection, while marketplace developer licensing seeks to ensure ongoing commitment to requirements that protect both users and developers.

Changes for users: Control and knowledge

Users in the EU will also experience significant changes. From now on, they will have more control over their browsing and payment options, although this also means facing a potentially less intuitive user experience and new risks associated with downloading apps and processing payments outside of the App Store.

Safari: Apple’s election and confrontation with the EU

The introduction of a choice screen in Safari, which will appear when you open the browser for the first time after updating to iOS 17.4 or later, illustrates these changes. This screen will force users to choose a default browser from a list, which could disrupt the user experience and complicate their understanding of the available options.

Apple’s new strategy involves substantial changes to the App Store, presenting users and developers with a renewed ecosystem of applications.

App Store Changes: Apple Transparency and Warnings

In the App Store, changes include new options for using payment service providers (PSPs) within apps, as well as the ability to make transactions through external websites. Additionally, Apple has introduced labels on App Store product pages and disclosure sheets within apps to inform users when they are interacting with alternative payment processors.

New business terms: A two-way street

Apple has also outlined new commercial terms for apps in the EU, offering developers the option to adopt these new terms or keep the current ones. These new terms include a reduced commission, an optional payment processing fee, and a core technology fee, demonstrating a balance between regulatory compliance and preserving the value Apple offers developers and users.

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