Apple announces changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store in the European Union

Apple has announced major changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store impacting developers’ apps in the European Union (EU). The main news is the allowance for alternative stores on iOS, breaking the App Store’s monopoly on the distribution of iPhone applications for the first time since the launch.

The changes include more than 600 new APIs and tools that will allow startups and developers to offer their apps for download from alternative stores.

Changes to iOS

  • More Stores — developers will now be able to host iOS apps on alternative stores.
  • Other browsers — users will be able to choose a default browser other than Safari.
  • Alternative payment methods — developers will be able to use alternative payment methods in their applications, apart from the App Store purchase system, but users will be warned about the risks.

Apple states that these changes bring new risks to users, including fraud, viruses, illegal content, and privacy issues. Any alternative store must pass Apple’s verification process before it can be used for iPhone.

Security measures

  • Notarization for iOS apps — a baseline review that applies to all apps, regardless of their distribution channel, focused on platform integrity and protecting users.
  • App installation sheets — at-a-glance descriptions of apps and their functionality before download, including the developer, screenshots, and other essential information.
  • Authorization for marketplace developers — to ensure marketplace developers commit to ongoing requirements that help protect users and developers.
  • Additional malware protections — that prevent iOS apps from launching if they’re found to contain malware after being installed to a user’s device.

Developers can learn more about the changes on Apple’s developer support page and start testing the new features today in beta mode.

Why is it important?

Apple’s changes will be taking place ahead of March 7, which is the time by which the company must meet the requirements of the Digital Markets Act in the EU countries. These changes will affect iPhone users and dedicated applications developers from startups across 27 countries, including Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Finland, and many others.

Already, the new changes entail that many applications and games will come back to iOS. For example, Fortnite, a very popular multiplayer game, announced it can be installed on iOS again, via the EpicGames Store.