Apple announced, this Thursday (25), one of the main changes to the App Store since the launch of the virtual store. Following the European Union Digital Markets Act (DMA), the company will now allow the installation of applications from outside its store, in addition to allowing the use of third-party app stores in its ecosystem.
Available starting today for developers using iOS 17.4 beta, the novelty will be distributed in the 27 countries of the European bloc from March this year. There are no confirmations that Apple will take the change to other countries.
As on previous occasions, Apple reiterates that the “new options for processing payments and downloading apps on iOS open new avenues for malware, fraud and scams, illicit and harmful content, and other threats to privacy and security.”
Apple announced today (25) the biggest change ever made to the App Store.Source: Wellington Arruda/TecMundo
According to the company, extra protections were added to recognize authentic apps on iOS and specific authorizations for developers. The company claims that the changes bring more than 600 new APIs (for app analysis and payment processing, for example) to the iPhone system.
“Our priority remains to create the best and safest experience possible for our users in the EU and around the world,” said Phil Schiller, executive responsible for the App Store.
What is the impact of the change on the App Store?
Apple's announcement is significant mainly because the company has always been reluctant to accept the practice of sideloading — installing applications from outside its store —, something that exists on Android.
The changes now made by the company involve the iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS. Developers will be able to:
Choose your own payment service provider within the apps;
Add options for users to make transactions (such as subscriptions, for example) on the service's external website or app.
However, the company clarifies that “will not be able to issue refunds and will be less able to support customers who encounter problems, scams or fraud“.
With the changes, developers will also need to inform store customers. In the App Store, a new label will appear on apps that use an alternative payment process. The apps themselves will also have an indication of when a transaction is being made with another method outside the store.
Changes to the App Store should only impact users in the European Union.
It is worth considering that Apple will continue to review apps and use new processes because of the new policy. The company must analyze, among others, whether developers “accurately communicate about transactions” that come from alternative means.
This does not mean, however, that Apple will stop charging fees to developers. On the other hand, the commission will be reduced to 10% and 17% depending on the transaction. The company will also charge an additional 3% fee to process payments through the App Store. Finally, apps with more than one million downloads will need to pay 50 euro cents per annual installation.
According to Schiller, developers can choose to continue working under the same current App Store terms.
Other changes to Apple's system
With the new rules, iPhone users will notice some other changes starting with iOS 17.4. For example, the company will allow game streaming applications to reach users globally.
In the European Union, users will see a new screen to choose a default browser when they open Safari for the first time. Along the same lines, the company will allow “full” versions of third-party browsers, such as Google Chrome and Opera, to use their own engines other than WebKit.
Apple also reinforces that it has included new APIs so that the iPhone's NFC can be used more freely.