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  • Kyle Chua

EU iPhone Users Allow To Sideload Apps With New iOS Update, Hurts Profit

Apple's forthcoming mid-cycle software update for iOS, the iPhone's operating system, could prove to be gamechanger.

Credit: Apple

iOS 17.4 is set roll out to iPhone users globally starting this week, bringing with it a bunch of new features. However, it's the users who reside in European Union (EU) member states who can expect to find the most changes with the update.

To comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act, Apple was forced to implement major changes to the App Store, Apple Pay and Safari, among others. Chief among these changes is the ability to sideload apps in alternative marketplaces. That means, after the update, EU iPhone users would be able to download and install apps not found in Apple's App Store.

EU users would also be able to set a third-party web browser, other than Safari, as their default, as part of the changes coming with the update. These include web browsers that aren't based on WebKit.

In addition to these, Apple is also allowing other payment mechanisms beyond Apple Pay on to EU iPhones. As part of this, there'll be new controls that allow users to select a third-party contactless or any other alternative payment app as their default option.

"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 privacy and security threats," the iPhone maker wrote in a blog. For this reason, it's introducing new safeguards for EU users.

One of which is the Notarisation for iOS apps, which Apple describes as "a baseline review that applies to all apps, regardless of their distribution channel, focused on platform integrity and protecting users". The process involves a combination of automated checks and human review. Developers, meanwhile, would be subjected to authorisation checks to ensure their apps uphold users' privacy and security.

Credit: Apple

"Even with these safeguards in place, many risks remain," the tech giant noted, emphasising how the EU's DMA laws prevent it from banning apps that may distribute pornography, encourage the consumption of illegal drugs and tobacco, or contain pirated content from the iOS platform.

Apple might also be resistant to changes because of their potential to cut its profits. The company gets a sizeable commission from transactions on the App Store, which cover in-app purchases and subscription renewals. Previously, Apple's commissions reached up to 30% for larger developers. However, with the new update, a new fee structure is being introduced, capping Apple's commission between 10-17%. iOS apps on the App Store can also use the App Store’s payment processing for an additional 3%. But developers can use third-party payment services within their app or link users to their website to process payments for no additional fee to Apple.

On top of this, if developers choose not to distribute their apps and services through Apple's App Store, then Apple doesn't gain commissions.

The aforementioned changes coming with iOS 17.4 are limited to EU iOS users for now. Unless legislators from other major markets like the U.S. and China pass similar laws, they're not likely extending beyond the 27 member countries of the EU.

Apart from these changes, iOS 17.4 is upgrading the security of iMessage, adding new emoji and debuting transcripts to Apple Podcasts.

  • iOS 17.4 is set roll out to globally starting this week, bringing with it a bunch of new features and major changes for users in the EU.

  • To comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act, Apple is allowing iPhone users in the region to sideload apps, set a third-party web browser as their default and use other payment mechanisms beyond Apple Pay.

  • Apple said, to maintain the security and privacy of EU iPhone users, it's introducing new safeguards, such as the Notarisation of apps.

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