Apple will have to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) that allows European users of its devices to sideload third-party applications, thus breaking the monopoly that the company had over its own devices and how developers designed applications. While the tech giant claims this will put iPhone’s security at risk, Web3 developers are rejoicing.
In what is turning out to be a huge win for crypto and NFT developers, tech giant Apple will now be forced to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will see users of its devices in Europe permitted to install third-party app stores and alternate payment services including cryptocurrencies.
DMA, which was voted on by the European Union back in March, was established to allow consumers to be able to access alternative sources of apps on top of the existing safe and secure default app stores on their smartphones. This means, Apple’s European customers can avail services offered by marketplaces outside of its proprietary App Store and thus avoid the Silicon Valley giant’s 30% commission on in-app purchases and other restrictions, as reported by Bloomberg.
Currently, Apple only allows third-party app stores on its Mac computers, but has strictly objected to sideloading on the iPhone and iPad arguing that such activities would comprise the security of its platforms. The company claims that the model will not work with its smartphones because they carry more sensitive and personal information of users.
“Allowing sideloading would degrade the security of the iOS platform and expose users to serious security risks not only on third-party app stores, but also on the App Store. The current DMA language that is being discussed, would force sideloading on the iPhone. This alternate way of getting apps onto the iPhone would destroy its security,” said CEO Tim Cook.
The company claims applications that don’t go through its App Store review process usually contain malware that reviewers would otherwise find. Apple pointed to a study done on Android devices – which allows sideloading, that suggests third-party app stores supported by the operating system are more likely to contain malicious code.
Apple’s stance on enforcing a commission fee on in-app purchases has invited much scrutiny from users and developers alike. In October, the tech giant updated its App Store Review guidelines taking NFT and cryptocurrencies into account. The company put a 30% levy on all apps that provide services like buying and selling of NFTs or allow in-app purchases using crypto tokens, forcing developers to only implement Apple’s in-app payment system on their applications.
“Now Apple is killing all NFT app business it can’t tax, crushing another nascent technology that could rival its grotesquely overpriced in-app payment service. Apple must be stopped,” tweeted Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny commenting on the company’s updated App Store guidelines.
Epic Games was involved in a legal battle with Apple after the studio’s popular game, Fortnite, was booted off the App Store after it launched an in-game marketplace to sell digital collectibles which evaded Apple’s commission fees.
Earlier this month, crypto exchange Coinbase was asked by the tech firm to remove a NFT feature from its wallet app. Coinbase Wallet – the company’s self-custody crypto wallet, had launched a service that would allow users to transfer non-fungible tokens over their iOS devices. According to Coinbase, Apple blocked the update and threatened to remove the app from its marketplace for failing to comply with its guidelines.
The Digital Markets Act which will go into effect in May 2023 will require all tech companies to fully comply with its rules and regulations by 2024. Apple has not yet decided whether it will comply with the part of the act that will allow users to sideload applications on its devices, but is expected to launch the feature with the upcoming iOS 17 update scheduled for next fall.
The United States is also working on a similar framework called the Open App Markets Act that was proposed in the Congress by Senators Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal.