Apple allows third party app stores for the iPhone but only
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Apple allows third-party app stores for the iPhone, but only in the EU

Apple has announced that it will allow third-party applications to be installed bypassing the App Store. To comply with the European Digital Markets Act (DMA), the company will allow third-party app stores to be installed on iOS, breaking the app store monopoly. There will be changes with the release of iOS 17.4 in March. However, they will only affect users from the European Union – in other regions everything will remain the same.

Users in the EU who have updated to iOS 17.4 can download a third-party app store from the store’s official website. In order to use these services on iPhone, they must go through Apple’s approval process. By installing one of the “alternative app marketplaces,” as Apple calls them, the user must explicitly give them permission to download apps to their device. However, once the marketplace is approved and available on the device, users can download anything they want, including applications that are not available on the App Store and violate its rules. You can even choose a third-party marketplace as your iPhone’s default app store.

Developers, in turn, can choose to use Apple’s payment services for in-app purchases or integrate a third-party payment system at no additional cost to Apple. If a developer wants to use the existing payment system in Apple applications, he pays an additional commission of 3%.

Apple still plans to closely monitor the app distribution process. All apps must be approved by Apple and distribution through third-party marketplaces remains controlled by Apple’s systems. Developers are only allowed to distribute one version of their app across different app stores and still must meet some basic platform requirements, such as checking for malware.

    Image source: Unsplash/James Yarema

Image source: Unsplash/James Yarema

Apple will give developers more freedom not only in how they distribute applications, but also in how they accept payments from users. The main thing: the company will enable the use of third-party payment systems for in-app payments for digital goods and services. Links to external payment systems are also permitted – users can complete the payment for digital goods and services on the developer’s website. At the same time, it is now allowed to inform EU users about promotions, discounts and other offers available outside of applications.

At the same time, however, Apple will require developers to inform users on their applications’ pages in the App Store that the application uses alternative payment methods. Additionally, users must be informed that they will no longer transact through Apple if a developer redirects them to an alternative payment system. Apple noted that it will verify that developers correctly report transaction information using alternative payment systems.

Apple is also making changes to its fee structure for EU app developers. In short, developers will be able to avoid paying commissions to Apple in the European Union in the future if they only distribute their applications through alternative stores and use third-party payment systems. And for applications distributed through the App Store, the commission for in-app payments is significantly reduced.

Under the new terms, apps distributed through the App Store will have to pay Apple a 17% commission on digital goods and services, significantly less than the current 30%. The fee will also be reduced to 10% for those apps that are currently eligible for Apple’s Small Business plan, which the company says is the vast majority of apps. Developers who choose to use Apple’s payment processing system will be charged an additional 3% fee.

And Apple is introducing a new fee for popular applications. The new “Core Technology Fee” charges developers €0.50 for each first app installation for one year. However, this fee is only charged for one million installations per year in the EU. Apple estimates that under the new terms and conditions, more than 99% of developers will “reduce or maintain the amount of compensation they owe Apple” and less than 1% of developers will pay the core technology fee.

Developers can either choose to do business differently or stick with the existing model and continue to distribute apps via the App Store as usual.

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About the author

Robbie Elmers

Robbie Elmers is a staff writer for Tech News Space, covering software, applications and services.

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