A recent law passed by the EU could potentially force it apple to allow iPhone users to download apps and games from third-party app stores. The EU has adopted new legislation which it believes will help citizens against restrictive trade practices by large technology companies. As part of the plan, the European Parliament recently voted to make USB-C the common charging standard across Europe. Following the new legislation, Apple confirmed that it plans to drop Lightning ports and switch to USB-C in the iPhone 15 series next year.
Apple has also long been criticized for its ‘walled garden’ approach that forces users to download apps from the company’s official App Store. While “jailbreaking” allows iPhone users to bypass the App Store and install apps from the Internet, Apple makes it increasingly difficult to jailbreak iPhones with each new version of iOS, meaning most users have only one source to download apps and games on their new iPhones and iPads. Android users, meanwhile, have no such restrictions and can download apps from several third-party app stores like F-Droid and Aptoide. In fact, Android devices also allow users to download and install apps directly from the Internet in a process known as “sideloading,” allowing users to bypass all app stores entirely.
Called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the EU’s new law came into effect on November 1, making it essential for major tech companies such as Apple, Google and Meta to offer compatibility with third-party software. According to an EU official who helped pass the DMA last month, the new law will have “significant” consequences for how these technology companies conduct their business. Talking to The cableGerard de Graaf said the new EU legislation could help iPhone users download apps “not only from the App Store, but from other app stores or from the Internet.”
Third-party App Store support for iPhones?
If Apple is forced to allow app downloads from third-party sources on iPhones and iPads, it will signal the biggest single change in Apple’s app download policies since the App Store was created in 2008. However, the DMA will not only affect Apple, but also other US tech giants, such as Meta . According to the report, the new law may also require Meta’s WhatsApp messaging service to support messaging to and from competing apps such as Signal or Telegram. It could also potentially prevent Amazon, Apple and Google from prioritizing their own apps and services over those of their rivals.
De Graaf also explained that despite the DMA coming into effect this month, things will only change after the EU decides which companies are big enough to be forced to comply with the new rules. According to him, a dozen companies will be designated as “gatekeepers” and will be forced to change their business practices if the regulations stand up to the wave of lawsuits expected to be filed by Big Tech in the coming days. If the changes go through, it would mean a significant shift to how the tech industry has operated until now, and one that could help smaller tech companies compete on a level playing field with trillion-dollar tech giants that appleGoogle and Meta.
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