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Apple to relax App Store rules in EU – media

iPhone users will reportedly be able to “sideload” applications next year

US tech giant Apple will allow iPhone users in the EU to download applications hosted outside of the firm’s official App Store to comply with the bloc’s regulations, industry website MacRumors reported on Monday, citing Bloomberg chief correspondent Mark Gurman.

According to the report, Apple will introduce a “highly controlled system” that will enable EU users to install apps without needing to use the App Store, in a practice known as sideloading.

The change will be made “sometime in the first half of 2024,” MacRumors wrote, quoting the latest subscriber edition of Gurman’s Power On newsletter.

Under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), app stores and so-called gatekeepers – large digital platforms that provide core services such as online search engines – are obliged to open up their services and platforms to other companies and developers.

Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Meta, and Microsoft were designated as gatekeepers by the European Commission in September.

In the event of non-compliance, gatekeepers face fines of up to 10% of their total worldwide annual turnover, or up to 20% if there are repeated infringements.

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Apple has claimed sideloading will “cripple” the iPhone’s privacy and security protections, exposing users to serious risks such as malware, scams, and data tracking.

The company charges some app makers commissions of up to 30% for use of its in-app payment system. The fees have been criticized by developers and targeted by antitrust regulators in several countries.

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