Apple to allow third-party app stores on iPhone and iPad
Tuesday December 13, 2022. 09:05 PM , from Mac Daily News
As part of a sweeping overhaul aimed at complying with new European Union requirements coming in 2024, Apple is preparing to allow third-party app stores on its iPhones and iPads.
Apple’s App Store on iPhone
Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:
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.
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.
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…
In lobbying against the new European laws, Apple has argued that sideloading could put unsafe apps on consumers’ devices and undermine privacy… 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…
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.
MacDailyNews Take: Those who want safety, security, and privacy will stick to Apple’s App Store, but a single point of control is always a danger, especially when it comes to capricious censorship (see: pre-Musk Twitter, Apple’s App Store in China, etc.).
iPhone and iPad users must, like Mac users, have the ability to install third-party apps; even if they never do, for it will keep Apple honest. The ability to ban an app loses all power when it’s simply available in another App Store.
These moves, including removing the mandate to use WebKit, Apple’s Safari browsing engine, in third-party browsers, as Gurman also reports Apple is considering, will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the threat of anti-trust actions against Apple for the foreseeable future.
Also, expect Gatekeeper to come to iOS and iPadOS from macOS.
Yes, Apple’s App Store revenue will take a hit, but there are new products for new markets on deck (AR/VR headsets, AR glasses, Apple Car, etc.) that will more than make up for any loss of App Store exclusivity.
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