Apple has announced significant updates to iOS, Safari, and the App Store, specifically for the European Union, in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA).
These updates encompass over 600 new APIs, enhanced app analytics, support for alternative browser engines, and more options for app payment processing and iOS app distribution. These changes aim to maintain the high quality and security standards that EU users expect from Apple, while adapting to the new regulatory environment, according to Apple in a blog post that includes more details about each of the changes and new features.
However, the introduction of new methods for app payments and downloads on iOS raises concerns about increased risks of malware, fraud, scams, and other security and privacy threats. To mitigate these risks, Apple is implementing new protective measures. These include Notarization for iOS apps, requiring authorization for marketplace developers, and disclosures about alternative payment methods. Despite these safeguards, Apple acknowledges that some risks will still persist for EU users.
Developers interested in these changes can access detailed information and support on the Apple Developer Support page. Additionally, they have the opportunity to start experimenting with these new capabilities through the iOS 17.4 beta version, which is already available. The roll-out of these new features and capabilities is scheduled to begin in March 2024 and will be accessible to users in all 27 EU countries.
“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 unavoidable increased privacy and security threats this regulation brings. Our priority remains creating the best, most secure possible experience for our users in the EU and around the world,” said Phil Schiller, Apple Fellow. “Developers can now learn about the new tools and terms available for alternative app distribution and alternative payment processing, new capabilities for alternative browser engines and contactless payments, and more. Importantly, developers can choose to remain on the same business terms in place today if they prefer.”
Apple is introducing frameworks and APIs that enable the creation of these alternative marketplaces, allowing marketplace developers to manage app installations and updates.
Apple is also expanding its capabilities for browser app development by introducing frameworks and APIs for alternative browser engines. This move permits developers to use different browser engines, rather than being restricted to WebKit, for browser apps and in-app browsing experiences. To enhance interoperability, Apple is also establishing an interoperability request form. This platform will enable developers to request additional compatibility with iPhone and iOS hardware and software features, promoting a more versatile and developer-friendly environment in the EU.
As announced by the European Commission, Apple is also sharing DMA-compliant changes impacting contactless payments. That includes new APIs enabling developers to use NFC technology in their banking and wallet apps throughout the European Economic Area. And in the EU, Apple is introducing new controls that allow users to select a third-party contactless payment app — or an alternative app marketplace — as their default.