Apple has announced significant changes to its app ecosystem in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This marks the biggest transformation since the App Store launched in 2008. In this blog post we discuss the key aspects of these changes and what they mean for app developers.

Third party app stores & notarization

With iOS 17.4, Apple breaks the exclusivity of the App Store, allowing third party app stores to appear on iOS. Users are given access to alternative app stores, but iOS apps in these stores undergo a notarization process. In response to the new risks posed by the ability to download apps from alternative app stores, Apple is introducing the notarization process for iOS apps. This process includes automated checks and human review to ensure app integrity and protect users from malware. The process includes checks for accuracy, functionality, security and privacy to protect users.

Alternative browsers and NFC

In addition to allowing alternative app stores, Apple is making significant changes to the iOS ecosystem for the EU. The use of alternative browsers, besides WebKit, is introduced. This allows users to choose from different browsers when opening Safari on iOS 17.4. Additionally, global game streaming services are now welcome on the App Store, and developers in the European Economic Area will soon be able to offer NFC payments in their apps.

Click here to read more about alternative browsers.

In addition, developers can use new APIs to support contactless payment transactions from banking or wallet apps using host card emulation (HCE). 

Click here to read more about contactless payments with HCE.

More than 600 new APIs

Apple is introducing more than 600 new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to give developers additional options when developing apps. These are the biggest changes regarding APIs:

– New APIs and tools so developers can offer their apps on other platforms.

– New APIs for creating alternate app stores – allowing app store developers to install apps and manage updates on behalf of other developers from their app store.

– New APIs that allow developers to use NFC technology in their banking and wallet apps. 

– New APIs for alternate browsers – so developers can use alternate browser engines for browser apps and apps with in-app browsing experiences.

Updated payment policy:

Apple is introducing new options for developers regarding payment processing. Developers now have the choice between using Apple's own payment services or integrating third-party payment systems at no additional cost from Apple. 

Below are the changes in payments in brief:

Custom commission structure: iOS apps available on the App Store will benefit from a modified commission structure. For the vast majority of developers and subscriptions after the first year, the commission is reduced to 10 percent. However, for transactions involving digital goods and services, the commission remains 17 percent.

Payment processing fees: iOS apps in the App Store will have the option to use the App Store's payment processing service for an additional 3 percent fee. Developers also have the freedom to integrate a payment service provider within their app or redirect users to their website for payment processing, at no additional cost from Apple.

Core Technology Fee: iOS apps offered through the App Store and/or alternative app stores are subject to a Core Technology Fee. This amounts to €0,50 for each first annual installation per year, if the number of installations exceeds the 1 million threshold.

Want to know how much the costs for your app will be from March? Usage this handy tool!

This only applies if you opt for the new agreement. You can still continue to pay a 15% (if you have under a million dollars in sales, otherwise 30%) commission under the current agreement. Then you do not have to pay the Core Technology Fee.

These new commissions/rates only apply to the iOS App Store. Not for the App Stores on iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and visionOS.

The Core Technology Fee makes it very unattractive for apps with many users but not much revenue through the app.

Authorization for app store developers

Apple is implementing an authorization system for app store developers, requiring these developers to commit to ongoing requirements to ensure user and developer security.

New controls for NFC payments

Within the European Economic Area, Apple is introducing new controls for NFC payments in third-party apps, allowing users to select a third-party contactless payment app as their default option.

Request interoperability with iOS

Apple has introduced a streamlined process for developers in the EU to request additional iOS interoperability. Developers can submit a request using a special form, ensuring that their membership in the Apple Developer Program is valid. After submission, Apple will conduct an initial review based on feasibility. If this is deemed feasible, Apple will prepare a preliminary project plan. After the initial review, Apple will continue to develop and release the interoperability solution, providing regular updates every 90 days.

Click here to read more about Interoperability.

Extensive app analytics

Apple will expand the analytics available to developers' apps in both the EU and globally. This is to give developers even more insight into the performance of their apps. More than 50 new reports will be available through the App Store Connect API to help developers identify opportunities for improvement through more comprehensive measurements in areas such as:

Involved — with additional information about the number of App Store users interacting with a developer's app or sharing it with others

Sales — with additional information about downloads, sales and revenue, pre-orders, and transactions made using the App Store's secure In-App Purchase system

App usage — with additional information about crashes, active devices, installations, app uninstalls, and more

Use of frameworks — with additional information about an app's interaction with OS capabilities such as PhotoPicker, Widgets, and CarPlay

Apple's Steps After DMA

This is a big step after the passage of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in 2022, aimed at tackling anti-competitive practices of big tech companies. The impact on user preference for alternative app stores and payments in the EU remains uncertain for the time being.

In any case, we are happy with the ability to use a different browser, contactless transactions with HCE and Interoperability with iOS.

Knowing more? Read the full article from Apple.

Questions about these changes? Take without obligation contact us. 

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