Apple Responds to EU Law with Significant Changes to App Store in Europe

Apple has announced significant changes to its services in Europe, responding to new EU antitrust regulations by allowing iPhone users to download alternative app stores for the first time. This move aims to address concerns about the dominance of the App Store, a fixture on iPhones since 2008.

Starting in March, coinciding with the implementation of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, users will have the option to download software from sources other than the App Store. Additionally, users will gain new choices for processing payments. Notably, iPhone users will also be able to select an alternative web browser when they first open Safari, eliminating the need to adjust settings manually.

Apple’s announcement emphasized the privacy and security risks associated with the Digital Markets Act, stating that the company is implementing safeguards to mitigate these risks. Despite these precautions, Apple acknowledges that the changes may still expose users to malware, fraud, scams, and harmful content.

Phil Schiller, who oversees the App Store at Apple, emphasized that the announced changes comply with the Digital Markets Act while aiming to protect EU users from increased privacy and security threats.

The EU has taken a proactive stance against Big Tech, implementing stricter regulations to safeguard European users online and promote competition in an industry dominated by US tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Meta (formerly Facebook and Instagram). Companies found violating the Digital Markets Act face fines of up to 20 percent of their global turnover and potential breakup orders in severe cases.

Both Meta and TikTok, owned by Chinese entities, have initiated legal challenges against the Digital Markets Act, highlighting the contentious nature of regulations aimed at reining in tech giants’ power.