App Store

Apple’s App Store Undergoes EU-Mandated Overhaul: What it Means for iPhone Users

Apple is being forced to make some big changes to how its App Store and iOS software work in Europe. New EU laws are requiring the company to open up its closed ecosystem – and Apple has begrudgingly agreed.

Starting in March, iPhone users in Europe will be able to download apps from outside the App Store for the first time ever. Apple has resisted this kind of thing for ages, arguing it puts users at risk of scams and malware. But under the EU’s new Digital Markets Act targeting Big Tech gatekeepers like Apple, the company has little choice but to comply.

Apple says the mandated changes will “unavoidably” increase privacy and security issues. But developers are celebrating since they can finally take payments directly from users, bypassing Apple’s commissions. Apps from third-party stores will still go through Apple’s security review, but the company admits it won’t catch as much sketchy stuff as before.

The 30% “Apple tax” on subscriptions and in-app purchases is also getting slashed. It’s dropping to 17% for starters, then down to 10% after a year for most devs. Of course, Apple is tacking on new fees too, like a flat half-euro per download beyond an app’s first million installs.

Apple is opening up the iPhone’s NFC chip so tap-to-pay apps can use it beyond just Apple Pay. And Safari will prompt users about making a different default browser when upgrading to iOS 17.4. Browser makers can also use their own web rendering engines rather than being forced to use Apple’s WebKit.

The EU deserves credit for finally forcing Apple to loosen its iron grip on iOS and the App Store.