Apple Rolls Out DMA-Compliant Updates to iOS and App Store in EU

In response to the Digital Markets Act, Apple updates its app distribution and payment processing options, ushering in new opportunities for EU developers.

Apple has recently announced adjustments to iOS, Safari and the App Store, specifically targeting developers’ apps in the European Union (EU). These changes are in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) and aim to enhance connectivity between residential and mobility spaces.

The updates include over 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics and functionality for alternative browser engines. Additionally, developers now have options for processing app payments and distributing iOS apps. To address the new risks associated with these changes, such as potential malware, fraud, scams and privacy threats, Apple is implementing Notarisation for iOS apps, authorization for marketplace developers and disclosures on alternative payments.

Developers can access information about these changes on the Apple Developer Support page and can start testing new capabilities in the iOS 17.4 beta. These new features will be available to users in the 27 EU countries starting in March 2024.

Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow, stated, “The changes we’re announcing today comply with the Digital Markets Act’s requirements in the European Union, while helping to protect EU users from the increased privacy and security threats this regulation brings.”

The changes for EU apps are a reflection of the European Commission’s classification of iOS, Safari and the App Store as “core platform services” under the DMA. In March, Apple plans to release resources to help EU users understand these changes, including guidance to navigate the complexities brought by the DMA, such as a less intuitive user experience.

Apple also announced new options for streaming games and more than 50 forthcoming reports in areas like engagement, commerce, app usage and more, available globally for developers’ apps.

Key changes to iOS and Safari in the EU

  • New distribution options for iOS apps: Developers will have new ways to distribute their iOS apps, including through alternative app marketplaces, with new APIs and tools.
  • Frameworks for alternative App marketplaces: New frameworks and APIs will allow marketplace developers to install and manage app updates.
  • Alternative browser engines: Developers will have the option to use browser engines other than WebKit for browser apps and in-app browsing experiences.
  • Interoperability request form: A platform for developers to request additional interoperability with iPhone and iOS hardware and software features.

Apple is also introducing new controls in the EU, allowing users to select third-party apps for contactless payments or alternative app marketplaces as their default.

In Safari, iOS users in the EU will now see a choice screen for default browsers upon opening Safari in iOS 17.4 or later. 

Key changes to the App Store 

Apple’s updates to the App Store, affecting apps across various Apple operating systems, including iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS, are designed to provide more flexibility for developers while informing EU users about the risks of alternative payment methods.

The notable changes for developers include:

  • Payment service providers (PSPs): Developers can use PSPs within their apps to process payments for digital goods and services.
  • Link-out transactions: Developers can direct users to their websites for transactions, accompanied by in-app disclosures about using alternative payment processors.
  • Business planning tools: Developers can access tools to estimate fees and understand metrics under Apple’s new business terms in the EU.

To protect and inform EU users, Apple is introducing:

  • Product page labels: Labels on App Store product pages will indicate when an app uses alternative payment processing.
  • In-app disclosure sheets: These sheets will inform users when they are transacting outside of Apple’s ecosystem and using an alternative payment processor.
  • New app review processes: To ensure developers accurately communicate transaction information using alternative payment processors.
  • Expanded data portability: On Apple’s Data & Privacy site, EU users can access and export new data about their App Store usage to authorized third parties.

However, for apps using alternative payment processing, Apple will not provide refunds or support for customer issues, including scams or fraud. App Store features like Report a Problem, Family Sharing and Ask to Buy will not cover these transactions.

New business terms for apps in the EU

Apple’s new business terms for EU developers offer options to adopt these terms or continue with existing terms. The new terms, designed to meet DMA’s requirements, include:

  • Reduced commission: A reduced commission of 10% for most developers and subscriptions after their first year or 17% for other transactions.
  • Payment processing fee: An additional 3% fee for using the App Store’s payment processing with no additional fee for using a PSP or linking to the developer’s website.
  • Core technology fee: A €0.50 fee per first annual install over a 1 million threshold for apps distributed from the App Store or alternative marketplaces.

For apps on iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS in the EU, developers processing payments using a PSP or linking out to their website will receive a 3% discount on the commission owed to Apple.

Apple is providing a fee calculator tool and new reports to help developers understand the potential impact of these changes on their businesses. Developers can learn more about these changes on the new Apple Developer Support page and begin testing these capabilities in the iOS 17.4 beta. These updates represent a shift in Apple’s approach in the EU, aimed at balancing compliance with the DMA while maintaining its commitment to user privacy, security and a quality experience.

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Header Image Courtesy to Unsplash 

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