Apple details how third-party app stores and payments will work in Europe

Apple does major changeetc. to the App Store and other major parts of iOS in Europe in response to new European Union laws. From March, Apple will allow users in the EU to download apps and make purchases outside of its App Store. The company is testing many of these changes in the iOS 17.4 beta, which is already available to developers.

Apple has long resisted many of these changes, arguing that they would leave users vulnerable to scams, malware and other privacy and security issues. But under the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which came into effect on March 7, big tech companies like Apple significant changes to their businesses.

Apple’s Phil Schiller said in a statement that the company still believes that some of these changes, such as opening the App Store, pose a risk to users. “The changes we are announcing today are in line with the requirements of the Digital Markets Act in the European Union, while helping to protect EU users from the inevitable increased privacy and security threats brought by this regulation,” he said.

The most significant changes will be for developers, who will be able to accept payments and distribute apps outside of the App Store for the first time. Under the new rules, Apple will still apply a review process for apps that don’t come from its store. The review, called “notarization,” will use automation and human reviewers and will focus on “platform integrity and protecting users from things like malware.” But the company notes that it is less able to address “other risks, including apps that involve fraud, cheating and abuse or expose users to illegal, illegal or harmful content.”

Apple is also changing its oft-criticized commission structure so that developers will pay 17 percent for subscriptions and in-app purchases after the first year, dropping to 10 percent for “most developers.”

At the same time, Apple is introducing a new 3 percent “payment processing” fee for transactions that go through its store. And the new “basic technology fee” will charge everyone a flat €0.50 software downloads, regardless of whether they come from the App Store or a third-party website after the first 1 million installs. According to Apple, the new fee structure will result in most developers paying the company less than they currently do, as the core technology fee will affect larger developers the most.

Apple claims that most EU developers will pay the company less as a result of the fee change.Apple claims that most EU developers will pay the company less as a result of the fee change.


The updates may also bring other significant changes for iPhone users in Europe. Apple will offer new APIs that allow app makers to access the iPhone’s NFC chip for wireless payments, enabling tap-to-money transactions that don’t rely on Apple Pay.

It also makes adjustments to the Safari web browser so that iOS users in Europe are immediately notified when they launch the app for the first time after the iOS 17.4 update that they don’t want to change their default browser. In addition, the browser developer will be able to use an engine other than Apple’s own WebKit, which could lead to browsers such as Chrome and Firefox releasing new versions using their own technology to render sites. Whether this will make those browsers faster or better than Safari remains to be seen, but it could be a big change for one of the most important apps on your phone.

Update, 4:30 p.m. ET: Added details about browsers not being restricted by using Apples WebKit technology.

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