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Apple Announces Slew of New Features to Comply with the EU Digital Markets Act

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Today Apple has made a number of announcements with many of these being related to complying with the European Union Digital Markets Act, or DMA. The DMA requires big technology companies, like Apple, to comply with a number of various new regulations.

There is a lot of information. I could attempt to detail all of the changes, but I would do a poor job of it. Instead, I am going to provide a brief overview of each of the changes, with links to a much more in-depth article. Most of these will be limited to the EU, but there are some new items that are not.

Request for Improved Interoperability

Developers can now make a request improved interoperability with the iOS hardware and software. This request form does not guarantee that a feature will be implemented. Developers will need to be explicit in their request and why they are requesting it. There are, of course, limitations. Anything that would weaken security will be rejected. This request is limited to EU developers.

You can read more information at MacRumors

Third-Party App Stores in the EU

The biggest requirement for the DMA is that Apple will be required to allow side-loading of apps from third-party app stores. These companies will be required to comply with. One requirement is that the companies must have a 1 million euro line of credit with an A-Plus rating. This is to be able to make sure they can pay some fees, but more on that in a bit.

Apps that are made available on these marketplaces will be required to be notarized through Apple, which will ensure safety and security checks, but they will not be checked for content.

More details are available at 9to5Mac.

Reduced Commissions in the EU

The third item announced is that there will be a reduced commission structure for EU developers. The new structure will drop down to 10% for Small Developers, down from 15%. For larger developers, it will be 17%. Apps that are within third-party app marketplaces can use any payment processor that they want. Including Apple’s. If they opt to use Apple’s, they will pay an additional 3% fee.

For developers who have more than 1 million installs per year, they will need to pay a Core Technology Fee, or CTF. This is €0.50 per install. This fee will need to be paid regardless of where the app is installed, via Apple or via a third-party marketplace.

Third-party Marketplaces will need to pay the Core Technology Fee for apps downloaded through the marketplace. There is no threshold for marketplaces.

You can read additional details via target="_new">9to5Mac.

Web Browsers and Near Field Communications

Apple will be opening up iOS to allow apps to access the Near Field Communication, or NFC, chip. This will allow apps to offer non-Apple "Tap to Pay" options. Details are available at MacRumors.

For the entire lifetime of iOS, there has only been a single browser engine, WebKit. To date, third-party browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, have all had to use the WebKit engine on iOS and iPadOS. This will change. They will now be able to use their own browser engine. Users will even be prompted to choose a default. This is similar to the Browser Ballet that Microsoft had to implement on Windows in the European Union.

Additional details are available on 9to5Mac.

New Gaming Streaming Options

The gaming landscape has changed significantly since iOS was initially released in 2007. When it was released, physical games were prominent. iOS has contributed to digital games being even more prevalent. One of the downsides to modern games is that they can be rather large in size. Along with this, internet speeds have become much faster. In order to limit the needs to constant updates, as well as be able to game on anything, streaming games have become more commonplace.

To date, Apple has required developers to submit every game as a discrete app. This was an untenable solution for streaming games. This will no longer be the case. This change will allow services like Xbox Game Pass and GeForce Now to be viable options via an App on the App Store. Previously these were only available via a web browser. This will apply to the App Store world wide, not just in the EU.

More details can be found on MacRumors.

New Developer Reports

The last item that was announced is that developers will be getting access to 50 new additional reporting metrics. Four of the new metrics will be engagement of users, additional details with in-app purchases, improved app usage, like crashes and deletions. The one that might be the most interesting is framework usage. This will allow developers to see how their app interacts with frameworks like Widgets, CarPlay, and PhotoPicker.

There will be more information available in March about the new metrics and reports that will be available.

Additional information can be found on MacRumors.

Closing Thoughts

Apple has clearly indicated that they will not be brining any of the EU-specific changes to any other markets, unless required to by law, so do not expect these changes to come to other markets without changes in laws.

Many of the changes announced are specific to the European Union. However, I think the new streaming game option could be a big boon to the Apple TV. This is possibly a boon because more people might opt to purchase an Apple TV and game controller and use that with Xbox Game Pass instead of purchasing an Xbox Console. Beyond this, having access to Xbox Game Pass available natively on an iPad can improve the experience overall.