EU users can now download iOS apps directly from developers

Apple’s decision to allow developers to distribute iOS apps directly to the EU users marks a significant departure from its previous approach.

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Apple is rolling out a significant change in its approach to distributing iOS apps in the EU. Starting Tuesday, developers will be able to offer apps for direct download from their websites. This move breaks from Apple’s traditional walled garden model and responds to new EU regulations to foster competition and consumer protection in digital markets.

Under these changes, developers meeting Apple’s criteria, including notarization requirements, can distribute iPhone apps directly to the EU users. However, this comes with new terms, including a ‘core technology fee’ of €0.50 for each first annual install over 1 million, regardless of distribution location.

The company has also made other adjustments in compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), such as allowing marketplace apps where developers can run their own app stores on iOS and offering greater flexibility in in-app payments. However, Apple maintains its stance on security risks associated with sideloading apps, emphasising safety measures in the new distribution process.

Critics have raised concerns about the authorisation flow for direct web downloads, labelling them as ‘scare screens’ designed to discourage users from bypassing Apple’s App Store. The European Commission is investigating several aspects of Apple’s compliance with the DMA, including its fee structure and steering rules.

Why does it matter?

While this shift opens up new avenues for developers to reach users in the EU, its adoption remains to be determined. Apple acknowledges some interest from developers but emphasises that it’s a new capability, and the extent of its adoption is yet to be seen. This move adds to the evolving landscape of app distribution options in the EU alongside the existing App Store distribution and marketplace app submissions.