Apple could be forced to allow users to install third-party apps, outside of the App Store ecosystem, under a new EU law.
The new ruling was included in the new Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is reportedly close to being sworn into law following a provisional agreement of its conditions by EU Parliament and Council negotiators.
In a statement emailed to The Verge, European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke said: “We believe that the owner of a smartphone should have the freedom to choose how to use it. This freedom includes being able to opt for alternative sources of apps on your smartphone.
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“With the DMA, a smartphone owner would still be able to enjoy safe and secure services of the default app store on their smartphones. On top of that, if a user so chooses, the DMA would allow a smartphone owner to also opt for other safe app stores.”
This would potentially open up the possibility of Apple users gaining access to the Google Play store, or sideloading apps without having to jailbreak or mod their Apple device. Apple would also be forced to allow developers to use the App Store without using Apple’s payment systems.
It’s currently unclear when the law would come into effect if it’s voted through the EU Parliament, but The Verge understands that it could be as soon as October.
Apple is likely to strongly oppose the move, having long held the opinion that any sideloading of third-party apps could seriously compromise the security of the iPhone platform, despite this practice being standard across other smartphone operating systems, most notably Android.
For much of last year, Apple was embroiled in a legal battle with Epic which resulted in Apple blacklisting Fortnite until the legal dispute is over.