Sunday, January 29, 2023
HomeNewsApple to allow outside app stores in overhaul spurred by EU laws

Apple to allow outside app stores in overhaul spurred by EU laws

Customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.

Apple Inc. is preparing to allow alternative app stores on its iPhones and iPads, part of a sweeping overhaul aimed at complying with strict European Union requirements coming in 2024.

Software engineering and services employees are engaged in a major push to open up key elements of Apple’s platforms, according to people familiar with the efforts. As part of the changes, customers could ultimately download third-party software to their iPhones and iPads without using the company’s App Store, sidestepping Apple’s restrictions and the up-to-30% commission it imposes on payments.

The moves — a reversal of long-held policies — are a response to EU laws aimed at leveling the playing field for third-party developers and improving the digital lives of consumers. For years, regulators and software makers have complained that Apple and Google, which run the two biggest mobile app stores, wield too much power as gatekeepers.

If similar laws are passed in additional countries, Apple’s project could lay the groundwork for other regions, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the work is private. But the company’s changes are designed initially to just go into effect in Europe.

Even so, the news bolstered shares of companies that offer dating services and other apps. Match Group Inc. jumped as much as 10% and Bumble Inc. was up as much as 8.6% — a sign investors think the companies could get a break from Apple’s commissions. Spotify Technology SA, the audio streaming service, climbed as much as 9.7%. Apple’s shares, meanwhile, were little changed.

A spokesman for the Cupertino, California-based company declined to comment on the upcoming changes.

The main new European law, dubbed the Digital Markets Act, takes effect in the coming months, but companies aren’t required to comply with all of the rules until 2024. Government officials in the US and other countries have pushed for similar laws but haven’t gotten as far as the EU yet.

The act requires technology companies to allow the installation of third-party apps and let users more easily change default settings. The rules demand that messaging services work together and that outside developers get equal access to core features within apps and services.

The laws apply to technology companies with market valuations of at least €75 billion ($80 billion) and a minimum of 45 million monthly users within the EU.

The changes underway within Apple are being led by Andreas Wendker, a longtime software engineering vice president who reports to Craig Federighi, the company’s top software executive. Jeff Robbin — Apple’s top engineering manager for its services, who reports to head of services Eddy Cue — is also involved.

Apple is applying a significant amount of resources to the companywide endeavor. It hasn’t been a popular initiative within Apple, considering that the company has spent years decrying the need for “sideloading” — the process of installing software without using the official App Store. In lobbying against the new European laws, Apple has argued that sideloading could put unsafe apps on consumers’ devices and undermine privacy.

Some engineers working on the plan also see it as distraction from typical day-to-day development of future features, according to the people. The company is aiming for the changes to be ready as part of an update to next year’s iOS 17, which would be in line with requirements.

Epic Games Inc., maker of the hit game Fortnite, waged a legal battle with Apple over the App Store fees. After Epic sought to sidestep the commission with Fortnite, Apple removed the game from its store. In the ensuing fight, Epic accused Apple of using monopolistic practices, but a US court found that the iPhone maker didn’t violate federal antitrust laws.

To help protect against unsafe apps, Apple is discussing the idea of mandating certain security requirements even if software is distributed outside its store. Such apps also may need to be verified by Apple — a process that could carry a fee. Within the App Store, Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut of revenue.

Apple hasn’t made a final decision on whether to comply with a component of the Digital Markets Act that allows developers to install third-party payment systems within their apps. That would let users sign up for subscriptions to a travel app, for example, or buy in-app content from a game maker — without involving Apple.

As part of an agreement with the Japanese government, the company already allows some media and cloud apps to point users to the web to complete transactions. But the Digital Markets Act likely wants Apple and other technology giants to go further.

Apple also is working to open more of its private application programming interfaces, or APIs, to third-party apps. Those are the underlying frameworks that allow apps and features to interact with Apple’s hardware and core system functions.

As part of an agreement with the Japanese government, the company already allows some media and cloud apps to point users to the web to complete transactions. But the Digital Markets Act likely wants Apple and other technology giants to go further.

Apple also is working to open more of its private application programming interfaces, or APIs, to third-party apps. Those are the underlying frameworks that allow apps and features to interact with Apple’s hardware and core system functions.

The company hasn’t, however, made a decision on how it may open iMessage and its Messages app to third-party services — another requirement of the Digital Markets Act.

Engineers believe that such a change could hurt end-to-end encryption and other privacy features offered by iMessage. The company also isn’t currently considering integrating RCS, or rich communication services, a messaging protocol that Google and others are pushing Apple to adopt.

Source:indianexpress.com

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments