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Apple on Thursday seeded the first betas of upcoming iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 software updates to developers, and the betas revealed a panoply of changes that will impact users in the European Union in order to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

App-Store-vs-EU-Feature-2.jpg

Apple implemented several major changes to the way the App Store and apps operate in the EU in order to comply with the DMA. These changes are included in iOS 17.4, but are generally limited to countries that are in the European Union.

Apple is working towards a March 6 deadline to make the changes live for users who update to iOS 17.4. Below, we've summarized what will change for affected users and the reasons that Apple has offered for said changes, along with some related news.

  • Alternative App Stores: App developers in the EU can opt to offer alternative app stores or install their apps through alternative stores, and Apple has a new fee structure as part of the change. Any developer can create an app marketplace, so long as they meet Apple's criteria for customer experience, fraud prevention, customer support, and more.
  • Alternative Payment Options: Apple is allowing apps to use alternative payment options, and there is no longer a requirement to use in-app purchases. Developers can integrate these into their app, or developers can link out to their websites where users can make a purchase.
  • App Store Notarization: Apple has outlined how Apps that are distributed through alternative app stores in EU countries will need to submit to a notarization process that's similar to the notarization process for Mac apps.
  • Screen Time and Refund Limitations:: Apple says apps distributed through alternative app stores won't work with some long-standing features like Screen Time, refunds, and in-app purchases, as they do for standard App Store apps.
  • NFC Third-Party Access: NFC payments will be available directly in apps without the need for Apple Pay or the Wallet app, allowing third-party payment services and banks to offer their own tap-to-pay solutions on Apple devices in the European Economic Area.
  • Default Browser Options: Users in the EU will be allowed to choose a new default browser from a list of the most downloaded browsers on iOS devices. Some of the options include Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Brave, and Microsoft Edge.
  • Hardware and Software Developer Access: Apple will allows developers of iOS apps distributed in the EU to request additional interoperability with iPhone hardware and software features. Apple says it will evaluate interoperability requests on a case-by-case basis.
  • Expanded Analytics Availability: As part of the App Store changes in the EU, Apple is providing all developers worldwide with updated analytics information. More than 50 new reports will be available through the App Store Connect API to help developers analyze their app performance.
    Apple's Reasons for Limiting Changes to EU: In a support document, Apple has explained why alternative app stores, alternative payment options, and other updates are being limited to the EU, highlighting risks like fraud, scams, and other privacy threats.
As a direct or indirect consequence of the announced changes coming in iOS 17.4, there have also been some other significant developments overnight.

Apple's new EU terms include a Core Technology Fee that some developers have warned could completely bankrupt freemium apps that go viral by charging them astronomical fees. Apple does not charge for the first one million "first annual installs" per iOS account each year, but after that, developers will begin racking up charges. Apple's Core Technology Fee could also be prohibitively expensive for apps like Spotify that have millions of users.

Epic Games says it plans to bring its Epic Games Store to the iPhone and the iPad under Apple's new alternative app store policy in the EU. The Epic Games Store will include popular game Fortnite, which means iPhone and iPad users will be able to install and play the title without having to use a cloud gaming service. Fortnite has been banned from the iOS App Store for the last several years due to the legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games.

Apple has also announced that it will allow streaming game apps on the App Store worldwide. This will mean services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce NOW will be available as standalone iPhone and iPad apps, whereas previously they were only accessible via the web.


Technology companies need to adhere to the EU's DMA regulations by March 6, 2024. iOS 17.4 is currently available as a beta update, and it is set to see a public release in March. Given Apple's concerns over user privacy and security, the company is unlikely to implement similar changes worldwide without being forced to by similar legislation from other countries.

Article Link: Here Are All the iPhone Changes Coming to EU Users by March 6
 
Last edited:

NagasakiGG

macrumors regular
Sep 20, 2017
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"In a support document, Apple has explained why alternative app stores, alternative payment options, and other updates are being limited to the EU, highlighting risks like fraud, scams, and other privacy threats."
They're not wrong though. Ripping companies off by demanding 30% commission in fact is scam.
 

playtech1

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Oct 10, 2014
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I'm curious whether this will extend to Apple TV too. That has real potential for GeForce Now and Xbox Games Pass.

However I'm a bit concerned about this excerpt from the announcement: "Each experience made available in an app on the App Store will be required to adhere to all App Store Review Guidelines"

Hopefully that doesn't mean every game needs to be App Store reviewed (which I thought was the whole problem in the first place).
 
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swiftapplefan

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Aug 25, 2023
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Screen Time and Refund Limitations:: Apple says apps distributed through alternative app stores won't work with some long-standing features like Screen Time, refunds, and in-app purchases, as they do for standard App Store apps.

I swear that in yesterday’s article the only Screen Time feature that wouldn’t work was “request more time”. The classic Screen Time would work. Besides, why wouldn’t it?
 

klasma

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Jun 8, 2017
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"In a support document, Apple has explained why alternative app stores, alternative payment options, and other updates are being limited to the EU, highlighting risks like fraud, scams, and other privacy threats."
They're not wrong though. Ripping companies off by demanding 30% commission in fact is scam.
And it’s not like people aren’t getting malware and scams via Apple’s App Store:
 

klasma

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Jun 8, 2017
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Do you know that for certain? It seems obvious, and it’s what I would think, but I would like to actually know.
Well, we’ll know for sure soon enough. But I don’t think there’s any other viable option, and all country-specific policies so far have relied on that setting.
 
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contacos

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Nov 11, 2020
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Do you know that for certain? It seems obvious, and it’s what I would think, but I would like to actually know.

This is some of the information that iOS checks to determine whether a device is eligible for sideloading and App Marketplaces, based on system reports and code seen by 9to5Mac:

  • Apple ID billing address
  • The user’s current location (apparently Apple is only checking the country and not a precise location for privacy reasons)
  • The current region set in iOS settings
  • The device class (whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, etc.)
 
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klasma

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Jun 8, 2017
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I'm curious whether this will extend to Apple TV too. That has real potential for GeForce Now and Xbox Games Pass.

However I'm a bit concerned about this excerpt from the announcement: "Each experience made available in an app on the App Store will be required to adhere to all App Store Review Guidelines"

Hopefully that doesn't mean every game needs to be App Store reviewed (which I thought was the whole problem in the first place).
I don’t think they’ll review all streaming games, that wouldn’t be practical. But maybe if they notice that some game does not conform to their review guidelines, they might take action against the streaming app.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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Well, we’ll know for sure soon enough. But I don’t think there’s any other viable option, and all country-specific policies so far have relied on that setting.
I have a EU ID too. I wonder if I update with that and then switch back to my UK ID, what will happen. I have months left on a couple of subscriptions and as absurd as it sounds, I can’t even cancel them early and lose money to get out of them. So changing my Apple ID region wouldn’t even be possible for close to a year.
 

klasma

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Jun 8, 2017
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What happens if you travel to the EU, will all these features be unlocked somehow?
No. In all likelyhood it will depend on your Apple ID country setting, regardless of your geolocation. Europeans taking a vacation outside Europe also won’t suddenly lose their apps from third-party app stores.
 
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cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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What happens if you travel to the EU, will all these features be unlocked somehow?
I doubt it. As mentioned by other posters it’s likely to be Apple ID locked and likely location based on where you update to 17.4.
 

cupcakes2000

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2010
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This is some of the information that iOS checks to determine whether a device is eligible for sideloading and App Marketplaces, based on system reports and code seen by 9to5Mac:

  • Apple ID billing address
  • The user’s current location (apparently Apple is only checking the country and not a precise location for privacy reasons)
  • The current region set in iOS settings
  • The device class (whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, etc.)
Ah ok. Thanks for that. So those things for me are an even split between an EU country and the U.K. - region and location is EU. App Store and billing is U.K.
 

wanha

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Oct 30, 2020
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I doubt it. As mentioned by other posters it’s likely to be Apple ID locked and likely location based on where you update to 17.4.

It used to be easy to switch between app stores of different countries, but then Apple decided it wasn't in their interest, so they locked us into a single country's app store.

Guessing they will use that mechanism since they already have in place - i.e. your location is whichever country's App Store you are using
 
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wanha

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Oct 30, 2020
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What happens if you travel to the EU, will all these features be unlocked somehow?

Do you get to switch to the App Store of another country when you travel to it? Nope, and my guess is that this feature will be region locked the same way you are locked to one App Store region.
 
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contacos

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Nov 11, 2020
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Ah ok. Thanks for that. So those things for me are an even split between an EU country and the U.K. - region and location is EU. App Store and billing is U.K.

My iCloud account is also from the US while my AppStore ID is Germany and I am also in Germany. Will be curious how / if it will work. I am not willing to change my iCloud account to Germany after 20 years
 

Sasparilla

macrumors 68000
Jul 6, 2012
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"In a support document, Apple has explained why alternative app stores, alternative payment options, and other updates are being limited to the EU, highlighting risks like fraud, scams, and other privacy threats."
They're not wrong though. Ripping companies off by demanding 30% commission in fact is scam.
Just for reference, I believe its the standard cut that game consoles demand for games in their stores.
 

Marbles1

macrumors 6502a
Nov 27, 2011
534
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There's going to be a fair bit of interest for folks from outside the EU, e.g. the UK to setup an EU Apple ID; and fund it with gift vouchers or something.

Picking Ireland or Malta, or any EU country where the iPhone has English as a language option would work I'd expect.

Why would you not want the choice of using these additional features?
 
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