Apple Unveils Changes to iOS, Safari, and App Store for EU Compliance with Digital Markets Act

In response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union (EU), Apple has announced a set of alterations to iOS, Safari, and the App Store, impacting developers’ applications.
Apple app store for businessThe changes, comprising over 600 new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), expanded app analytics, and enhanced functionality for alternative browser engines, aim to align with DMA regulations while introducing safeguards to mitigate potential risks.

Apple is introducing measures to reduce, though not eliminate, the new risks posed by the DMA to EU users, emphasizing its commitment to delivering the best and most secure experience. The adjustments include new avenues for processing payments and downloading apps, which also bring about potential threats such as malware, fraud, scams, and exposure to harmful content.

To address these concerns, Apple is implementing safeguards such as Notarization for iOS apps, authorization for marketplace developers, and disclosures on alternative payments. These protective measures are designed to enhance user security while acknowledging the persistent risks.

Developers worldwide can learn about these changes and start testing the capabilities in the iOS 17.4 beta, with the features expected to be available to users in the 27 EU countries from March 2024. The alterations for EU apps align with the European Commission’s classification of iOS, Safari, and the App Store as “core platform services” under the DMA.

In addition to the EU-focused changes, Apple has unveiled global options for streaming games and more than 50 forthcoming reports covering areas like engagement, commerce, and app usage.

Changes to iOS

In compliance with the DMA, Apple is implementing various changes to iOS in the EU, offering developers new options for distributing apps. The modifications include:

New options for distributing iOS apps from alternative app marketplaces, facilitated by new APIs and tools.

Introduction of frameworks and APIs for creating alternative app marketplaces, allowing developers to manage updates on behalf of other developers.

Frameworks and APIs for alternative browser engines, enabling developers to use engines other than WebKit for browser apps and in-app browsing experiences.

Interoperability request form, allowing developers to submit requests for interoperability with iPhone and iOS hardware and software features.

Additionally, Apple is sharing DMA-compliant changes impacting contactless payments, introducing new APIs for developers to use NFC technology in their banking and wallet apps across the European Economic Area.

Acknowledging that new options create potential risks, Apple is incorporating safeguards within the DMA’s constraints, including Notarization for iOS apps, app installation sheets, authorization for marketplace developers, and additional malware protections.

Changes to Safari

Reflecting DMA requirements, Apple is introducing changes to Safari, allowing EU users to choose a default browser from a list of options. This alteration, however, has raised concerns about potentially interrupting users’ experiences and creating a less intuitive browsing process.

Changes to the App Store

For developers with apps in the EU, Apple is sharing numerous changes affecting apps across its operating systems. These changes include:

New options for using payment service providers (PSPs) within a developer’s app to process payments for digital goods and services.

Options for processing payments via link-out, allowing users to complete transactions on the developer’s external website.

Business planning tools for developers to estimate fees and understand metrics associated with Apple’s new business terms for EU apps.

To protect and inform EU users, Apple is implementing App Store product page labels, in-app disclosure sheets, and new App Review processes. The company is also expanding data portability on its Data & Privacy site, allowing users to retrieve and export data about their App Store usage.

Acknowledging the limitations in addressing all risks, Apple notes that users may face challenges with apps containing scams, fraud, and abuse or exposing them to objectionable content.

New Business Terms for Apps in the EU

Apple is introducing new business terms for developers’ apps in the EU, providing the option to adopt these terms or remain on existing ones. The new terms are necessary to support DMA requirements for alternative distribution and payment processing and include:

Reduced commission for iOS apps on the App Store, ranging from 10 percent for the majority of developers and subscriptions after the first year to 17 percent on transactions for digital goods and services.

Payment processing fee of an additional 3 percent for using the App Store’s payment processing.

Core Technology Fee of €0.50 for each first annual install per year over a 1 million threshold for iOS apps distributed from the App Store or an alternative app marketplace.

Apple estimates that over 99 percent of developers would reduce or maintain fees owed to Apple, with less than 1 percent paying a Core Technology Fee on their EU apps. Developers using PSPs or linking out for payments on iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS in the EU will receive a 3 percent discount on the commission owed to Apple.

To assist developers, Apple is sharing a fee calculator tool and new reports to estimate the impact of the new business terms. Developers can find more information on the changes for EU apps on a new Apple Developer Support page and start testing the capabilities in the iOS 17.4 beta.