Third-party iOS app marketplace AltStore PAL arrives in the EU

AltStore PAL, an open-source app store made specifically for independent developers, is now live in the EU, thanks to Apple’s compliance with the region’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Gaining access to the alternative app ecosystem requires a nominal annual subscription fee of €1.50, plus tax, to cover Apple’s Core Technology Fee (CTF) associated with installing the marketplace. Navigating the installation process for AltStore PAL may prove somewhat cumbersome, as users are subjected to multiple confirmation prompts from Apple reiterating the risks associated with installing apps from sources other than the App Store. Yet, with perseverance and a series of clicks, users can successfully install AltStore PAL and unlock a world of diverse app offerings.

At launch, AltStore PAL debuts with two notable apps developed by Riley Testut: Delta and Clip. Delta, an emulator boasting compatibility with various retro gaming consoles, offers enthusiasts the opportunity to relive classic gaming experiences on their iOS devices. Meanwhile, Clip, a clipboard manager previously barred by Apple, provides users with enhanced clipboard functionality beyond Apple’s native capabilities.

“Unlike the App Store, all apps on AltStore are self-hosted. Once an app has been notarized by Apple, developers can download the processed “alternative distribution packet” (ADP) and upload it to their own server. To then distribute with AltStore, a developer just needs to create a “source” — which is just a JSON file containing basic app metadata uploaded to a public URL. Users must then add this source to their AltStore, after which all apps from that source will automatically appear for them to download,” the company said in a blog post

The advent of AltStore PAL also introduces novel monetization and distribution models for developers. Integrated with Patreon, AltStore PAL supports developers in offering beta apps as rewards for crowd-funded support, a practice prohibited within Apple’s App Store ecosystem. While Delta remains freely accessible to users, accessing Clip requires a minimum monthly Patreon pledge of €1, plus tax, reflecting the platform’s commitment to supporting developers and fostering innovation.

While AltStore PAL may not be entirely novel, having existed in various forms since 2019, its official launch in Europe under the auspices of the DMA signifies a watershed moment for the iOS app distribution landscape. With Apple’s endorsement through notarized launches, apps like Delta and Clip gain newfound legitimacy, paving the way for a more diverse and dynamic app ecosystem.

Looking ahead, AltStore PAL holds promise as a platform for future innovation and experimentation in iOS app development. By empowering developers to self-host their apps and enabling users to access software from multiple sources, AltStore PAL challenges the traditional paradigm of centralized app distribution, offering a glimpse into the future of iOS app ecosystems.

Written by Jordan Bevan


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