Sideloading & more: What changes Apple is threatened by the Digital Markets Act

As a powerful operator of several platform services, the new EU rules particularly affect Apple. Alternative app stores on iPhones are just the beginning.

 Sideloading & more: What changes are threatened by the Digital Markets Act for Apple

For iOS, app Store & Significant changes are emerging: the European Parliament passed the Digital Market Act (DMA) on Tuesday. The rules for gatekeepers laid down in it are intended to ensure that central platform services are also fair and as openly accessible as possible for third-party providers. As the operator of several important and sometimes strictly isolated platform services, radical changes are imminent, especially at Apple.

iPhone apps no longer just from the App Store

The law on digital markets shakes up the billion dollar business App Store: The upcoming rules are intended to force Apple to open the iOS and iPadOS operating systems to third-party app stores and free app distribution. Although the manufacturer can continue to make certain specifications to ensure the security of the platform, the existing limitation to a single app store controlled by Apple is no longer permitted.

Apps distributed in the App Store may According to the DMA, Apple no longer requires the use of the group’s in-app purchase interface – so direct payments must be possible. The company is already preparing for this change; the in-app payment monopoly has already fallen in South Korea. However, Apple continues to insist on charging a commission on all sales of digital content in apps.

The law on digital markets also applies to many other places on Apple’s platforms: third-party browsers for iPhone and iPad have so far had to Using Apple’s WebKit browser engine should not be allowed in the future. According to the DMA, things like restricting contactless iPhone payments to Apple Pay are no longer permitted, and third-party providers must also be granted access to the NFC interface.

Overall, the law stipulates that platform operators can use their own apps and services may not be preferred. Apple is already arming itself with a delete function for many pre-installed apps, and iOS 16 adds other manufacturer apps that can be deleted for the first time. According to the specifications, Apple would have to open up its platforms even more for smartwatches or in-ears from other manufacturers in order to enable other manufacturers to have functions similar to those of the in-house hardware.

iMessages for everyone

Even with In the future, Apple will probably have to show more flexibility when it comes to choosing standard services and language assistants, so far users can only select the standard settings for browser and e-mail client in the operating system.

For “number-independent interpersonal communication services” – i.e. messaging services – the DMA also requires interoperability. Apple would have to enable communication with iMessage on request from other providers in a timely manner – end-to-end encryption should be preserved. Of course, this interoperability requirement also applies to other messaging giants, most notably WhatsApp. However, this would make iMessage usable across platforms for the first time, instead of being limited to Apple hardware.

At the request of Mac & i referred Apple to a statement from the spring in which the group expressed concern that the specifications would create “unnecessary data protection and security gaps”. However, Apple wants to “continue to work with those responsible across Europe in the hope of minimizing these weaknesses”.

The law on digital markets now has to be approved by the Council of the European Union and could be as early as autumn come into effect. It will probably take several more months for the gatekeepers to be designated, and the first concrete steps by the EU are not expected until 2023. The commission has announced a fast and strict procedure and wants to impose high fines in case of violation of the rules.

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