Apple’s App Store has undergone significant changes recently, and savvy iOS developers are working hard to stay ahead of the curve. Together, the recent implementation of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations in the EU and App Store Review Guidelines will reshape the iOS application landscape. While some of these changes pose exciting opportunities, others demand rapid and proactive adaptation.
The bulk of Apple’s changes to the App Store policies are direct results of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which passed in November 2022. With the legal requirements now kicking in, Apple has no choice but to comply if they desire to operate their App Store and other services in the EU.
The DMA classifies Apple and iOS as “gatekeepers,” meaning they are core platform services used widely within the EU. Under the DMA, gatekeepers must:
- Allow alternative app distribution channels alongside the App Store (including sideloading apps and alternative app stores)
- Enable alternative payment processing options for in-app purchases
- Offer increased access to app data for developers
- Reduce commission fees for smaller developers (10%) and subscriptions after the first year (12%)
- Follow other requirements that will impact developers and end users
What does the DMA Impact?
One of the key reasons the EU implemented these changes was to allow for increased competition. EU developers will now have freedom of choice in application distribution and payment processing, paving the way for a potentially more competitive mobile market.
Reduced commissions for Apple could also result in lower fees for developers, translating to higher potential earnings. This could have a large positive impact, especially for smaller dev teams and subscription-based applications.
However, many critics note these changes will likely have detrimental financial impacts on larger developers. The implementation of Apple’s new “Core Technology Fee” will make it financially impractical for large developers to use alternate app stores. David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby-on-Rails, explains it well:
“Apple doesn’t want…anyone to actually use these alternative app stores…this poison pill is therefore explicitly designed to ensure that no second-party app store ever takes off. Without any of the big apps, there will be no draw, and there’ll be no stores. All of the EU’s efforts to create competition in the digital markets will be for nothing.”
As with many EU regulations, like the GDPR, a key focus of the DMA is user privacy. Both the App Store regulations and review guidelines reinforce rules about user privacy, impacting data collection practices and login options.
However, Apple doesn’t necessarily agree the DMA will positively impact user privacy. According to a recent press release, Apple is concerned new ways to process payments or download apps on IOS open the doors for malware, scams, security threats, and more.
But fear not, Apple has responded to these concerns by adding new features and disclosures to the iOS marketplace to alert users to potential risks.
How iOS Developers Can Prepare for These Changes
Adaptability is a key function of software development, and developers are no strangers to prepping for potential issues.
One of the best ways to get ready is to prepare for alternative app stores. While details in the EU remain fluid, consider exploring alternative distribution channels for potential future reach.
Next, you can evaluate alternative payment processors. You should analyze the feasibility and benefits of integrating alternative payment options, especially in the EU.
Your team should also refine your data collection practices. This way you can ensure transparency and compliance with evolving data privacy regulations and user expectations.
Also, make sure to optimize your in-app purchase experience. Do this by leveraging enhanced testing tools to guarantee seamless purchase flows and improve user satisfaction.
Overall, prioritizing application quality and user experience can help you continue to succeed. Doubling down on app performance, stability, usability, and functionality will help teams stay ahead of the curve.
Embrace the Shift
While adapting to change can be challenging, remember these developments can benefit app developers in the long run. By staying informed, taking calculated risks, and prioritizing user experience, you can navigate the changing tides of the App Store and thrive in the evolving mobile landscape.
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The App Store is dynamic, so proactive information gathering is crucial. Here are some reliable sources to stay updated:
Disclaimer: This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Please consult with legal and financial experts for guidance specific to your situation.