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26 January 2024

Notes on Apple’s iOS changes coming to the EU

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On 25th January 2024, Apple announced major changes that are coming to the iOS ecosystem with iOS 17.4 due in March. In this article, we’ll briefly highlight what this means for users, but will explain in more detail how this will affect developers and, most importantly, our clients.

From the perspective of users in the EU, this update would mean that apps can be downloaded from other marketplaces outside of the App Store. A user may also see some new popups when downloading apps to make it clear that they are downloading apps or even making purchases outside of Apple’s ecosystem, which may pose security and privacy risks. Users can also get to pick their default browser when opening Safari for the first time, and may also pick a default “tap-to-pay” app other than Apple Pay. Apple is trying their best to provide this functionality while still doing their best to maintain users’ privacy and security, although Apple makes it clear that this might not always be possible. Therefore, while users might enjoy this new-found freedom, it is good to stay vigilant of the risks that this poses. This update may also provide inconsistencies in the user experience of the platform since they might not adhere to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines that set standards for the platform’s experience. More details on these changes can be found in Apple’s newsroom here.

From the perspective of developers and our clients owning their own apps, there are new APIs available that allow us to create marketplaces or distribute apps in other marketplaces outside the EU. There is a notarisation process in place to help verify integrity and provide information on the download to its users, and apps may also be verified by Apple through automated tests and human verification. The first step for an app owner would be to choose if they would like to keep the current terms, or accept the new terms that opens the doors to this functionality. Accepting these new terms would allow distributing apps outside of the App Store or even chose different payment processes outside of Apple’s in-app purchase system.

Choosing the later would however make app owners subjected to different terms. Commission fees are reduced, for example, those charged 30% will be charged 17% instead, and those currently charged 15% will then be charged 10%. Then there is a new Core Technology Fee introduced which is of 0.5 Euro per first install of an app annually over and above the first 1 million first install. A first install is when a user downloads the app for the first time and excludes when the user installs it on other devices or reinstalls. For those who consider switching to the new terms, we encourage you to use their new Fee calculator here.

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