Tech giant Apple is reportedly getting ready to allow third party app stores on iOS in order to comply with the upcoming European Union requirements, Bloomberg’s tech reporter Mark Gurman wrote on Tuesday.
The new EU law, better known as the Digital Markets Act, came into effect on November 1, but tech companies have until March 2024 to comply with it. It will apply to companies with a minimum market valuation of €75 billion ($80 billion) and 45 million monthly users within the EU, requiring them to allow their users to install alternative app stores and sideload apps, and make default settings easier to change. Additionally, they must make messaging platforms interoperable, and provide outside developers with equal access to key features of their services.
According to insiders with knowledge of the situation, Apple is preparing to make significant changes to its mobile business in order to comply with these rules. Possibly as part of an update to iOS 17 which will be released next year, the company reportedly will enable users to install third party apps on their iPhones and iPads, and also let them sideload apps from external sources, something it has long opposed.
Apple is also planning to make its private APIs more accessible to third party apps, sources added. It currently requires third-party web browsers like Google Chrome to use its browser engine WebKit, but could soon eliminate this requirement.
In addition, it’s reportedly getting ready to make some other features accessible too, such as more camera technologies and its NFC chip which is exclusively used by its Apple Pay service and Wallet app. Furthermore, it’s also considering opening up its Find My network that powers AirTags, to its competitors like Tile.
However, the iPhone-maker has yet to come to a decision on how it could open up iMessage to other messaging services as engineers voice concerns that it could harm its privacy features and end-to-end encryption.
The changes will initially take effect in Europe, but could pave the way for other countries if they pass legislation along the same lines, sources said.
Given that Europe is currently Apple’s second biggest market where it generated $95 billion in fiscal 2022, the changes will likely have a significant impact on the tech giant’s revenue.