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iOS 17.5 lets EU iPhone users download apps directly from websites

Apple will allow EU users to start downloading apps from external websites in iOS 17.5.

In iOS 17.4, Apple began allowing developers to offer apps through the European Union’s alternative app markets to comply with the Digital Markets Act. However, Apple has now further relaxed app regulations with iOS 17.5, specifically for EU users, allowing them to download apps not only from external app stores but also directly from developer websites.

This change may provide users with a wider range of app acquisition options, closer to macOS. Computer operating systems have long allowed users to download and install applications from websites. It’s worth noting, though, that these changes haven’t been extended to iPads yet. Therefore, EU users can currently only download apps from third-party websites on iPhone.

On top of that, developers who want to offer apps through their own websites in the EU must meet a stringent set of standards set by Apple.

This includes being a member of the Apple Developer Program for at least two consecutive years and having at least 1 million first-time installs of the app on EU iOS devices in the previous year. Apps must also go through Apple’s notarization process, which checks for any potentially harmful elements, and developers must publish comprehensive, transparent data collection policies for users.

If these requirements are met, Apple will provide developers with an API that will enable users to download apps directly from its website. These apps can then be backed up, updated, and restored, similar to apps obtained from the official app store.

What does this mean for users?

This is the first time Apple has allowed apps to be downloaded directly from the website. By supporting this feature, apps like Spotify, Fortnite, and more can be downloaded directly to the iPhone, provided the developers of those apps agree to Apple’s terms.

Applications made available via the network do not pay any commission to Apple, but are subject to a core technology fee of €0.50.

Apple said in a statement on its website that if users leave the EU, they can continue to open and use apps they previously installed from other app markets. The Alternative App Market retains the ability to update these apps for up to 30 days after a user leaves the EU, and users can continue to use the Alternative App Market to manage previously installed apps.

However, the person must be located within the EU to install Alternative App Markets and new apps from Alternative App Markets.

In February this year, the European Union began the preliminary stages of a formal investigation into Apple. The move comes as Apple’s recent decision to restrict access to certain apps that bypass its App Store heightens scrutiny of the tech giant’s business practices.

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