In response to strong criticism from many developers, Apple has made “last-minute” changes to its policy changes that it has had to put in place to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the European regulation designed by lawmakers to ensure fair and open digital markets. With these changes, more flexibility is offered.

Notably, Apple removed the business entity requirement, added a one-time option to return to standard commercial terms, and added new eligibility criteria that allow developers to qualify even without a stand-by letter of credit.

Before the end of 2024, Apple will also allow EU users to completely delete Safari from iOS if they wish; Instead, it will offer developers a secure system that will allow developers to access users’ personal data, as long as they have agreed to share it.

Starting with the first point, Apple removed the business entity requirement that every account linked to a company had to sign the contract addendum. It’s now account-controlled, allowing a company to manage multiple developer accounts with different rules in and out of the App Store.

One of the main concerns related to Apple’s new rules in the EU was the so-called “Core Technology Fee”, a “fee” of €0.50 required from developers for each annual installation above the threshold of 1 million. This rule, as stated by many developers, could cause financial problems for several freemium apps that, in the event of sudden popularity, would not be able to make enough money to cover these costs.

With the latest changes to its policies, if a developer is now approaching one million downloads, there will be a chance to terminate the new contract. The developer can then decide to return to having the app in the App Store with the usual commissions of 30% or 15%. If the developer signs the addendum again, they won’t be able to go back this time.

Apple has also made it easier for developers to create alternative app marketplaces for iOS by no longer requiring, under certain circumstances, a letter of credit from an A-rated financial institution (or equivalent from S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s) of €1,000,000, required to establish adequate financial means to provide financial support to both other developers and users.

Now, if the developer’s account has been in the Apple Developer Program for two years and has an established business in the EU with more than 1 million annual first installs, the entity will be able to open an alternative app marketplace even without a letter of credit.

In addition to these changes, Apple is also working on a browser data export/import feature to transfer relevant data between browsers on the same device. This feature is expected to launch exclusively in the EU by late 2024 or early 2025, during which time iPhone users in the EU will also have the option to completely remove Safari from their devices. Apple, we recall, has already started supporting alternative web browser engines with iOS 17.4, another requirement of the DMA.

iOS 17.4 also offers improved controls that allow users to select default apps to manage web browsing and email. Apple still plans to introduce a new default control for navigation apps in “Settings” by March 2025.

Currently, some third-party developers offer migration solutions for transferring data between devices with different operating systems. To expand these options, Apple decided to develop a solution to “assist mobile operating system vendors in creating simplified data transfer options from iPhone to non-Apple phones.” In practice, it will make it easier to move from iOS to Android.

To improve interoperability between iPhone and other smartphone platforms, Apple now also allows third-party payment apps to access the iPhone’s NFC chip for contactless payments that aren’t made through Apple Pay. Apple also allows developers to submit requests for additional interoperability, which will still be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether or not they fall within the scope of the DMA and whether there is a chance to develop an effective interoperability solution.

Finally, developers in the EU, if their app does not pass Apple’s review process, will also be able to request additional mediation for their apps that is “EU-based, easily accessible, impartial, independent and free” that goes beyond the standard App Review Board assessment.

With the release of iOS 17.4, Apple has published a number of support documents and outlined what happens when an iPhone user with apps installed through an alternative app marketplace leaves the EU. Initially, the document spoke of a generic “grace period”, which was not specified. Apple has now updated the document by providing more detailed information.

iPhone users in the EU traveling outside the region will be able to update apps installed through alternative app marketplaces for up to 30 days. After that, the apps will no longer be able to be updated.

“If you leave the European Union, you can continue to open and use apps you’ve previously installed from alternative app marketplaces. Alternative app marketplaces can continue to update those apps for up to 30 days after you leave the European Union, and you can continue to use alternative app marketplaces to manage previously installed apps. However, you must be located in the European Union to install alternative app marketplaces and new apps from alternative app marketplaces.”

Apple has clarified that iPhone users who want to install apps outside of the App Store will need to be physically located in a European Union country, and their Apple ID will also need to be set to an EU country or region. Apple will use privacy-focused on-device processing to determine whether or not a user is eligible to install an alternative app marketplace.