Posts tagged with "DMA"

AppStories, Episode 382 – A Roomful of Suits: AltStore and Delta with Riley Testut

This week on AppStories, we are joined by Riley Testut for a conversation about the history of AltStore from side-loaded app to official alternative app marketplace in the EU and Delta’s dominance of the Top Free App chart in the US and elsewhere..

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An Interview with Riley Testut

On AppStories+, I propose an optimistic perspective on iOS gaming.

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Apple Changes How the Core Technology Fee Works and Confirms that Its Alternative Business Terms Will Apply to iPad Apps This Fall

One of the most controversial aspects of Apple’s response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) was the introduction of a Core Technology Fee (CTF), which must be paid by developers who opt into Apple’s alternative business terms. Today, in a post on its developer website, Apple announced changes to the CTF and regarding the treatment of iPadOS, which was added to Apple’s DMA compliance obligations earlier this week.

The problem was that the CTF as originally conceived applied to all apps, including free apps. If a developer offered a free app and had first annual app installs of over 1 million installations, they would owe the €0.50 per installation fee, regardless of the fact they earned no income from the app. The fee, as proposed, would likewise be a problem for developers with other sources of income that weren’t enough to pay the CTF.

Today, Apple made two changes to the way the CTF works:

  • First, no CTF is required if a developer has no revenue whatsoever. This includes creating a free app without monetization that is not related to revenue of any kind (physical, digital, advertising, or otherwise). This condition is intended to give students, hobbyists, and other non-commercial developers an opportunity to create a popular app without paying the CTF.
  • Second, small developers (less than €10 million in global annual business revenue*) that adopt the alternative business terms receive a 3-year free on-ramp to the CTF to help them create innovative apps and rapidly grow their business. Within this 3-year period, if a small developer that hasn’t previously exceeded one million first annual installs crosses the threshold for the first time, they won’t pay the CTF, even if they continue to exceed one million first annual installs during that time. If a small developer grows to earn global revenue between €10 million and €50 million within the 3-year on-ramp period, they’ll start to pay the CTF after one million first annual installs up to a cap of €1 million per year.

The first change should take care of the free app scenario regardless of its popularity. The second change is designed to transition small businesses into paying the CTF. The first time a business with less than €10 million of global annual revenue crosses the CTF threshold, they won’t pay the fee. They will, however, have to start paying the fee up to a €1 million cap if the business’ global annual income grows to between €10 million and €50 million in that 3-year period. If revenue exceeds that range, the cap on the CTF presumably would not apply.

In the same post, Apple confirmed that the same EU rules that apply to iOS will begin to apply to iPadOS this fall and that a download of an app on both iOS and iPadOS will only count as one annual installation for CTF purposes.

The Talk Show, Episode 399: ‘I Decapitated the MacBook Air’ with Federico Viticci

This week, Federico joined John Gruber on The Talk Show for a wide-ranging conversation about:

It’s a terrific episode from two people who have witnessed the evolution of blogging firsthand and Apple’s struggle to find a comfortable place for the iPad in its product lineup. That makes it the perfect warmup for next week’s Apple event.


The EU Pulls iPadOS Into the DMA Fray

Today, the European Union announced that it has added iPadOS to the products and services subject to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The designation gives Apple six months to comply with the DMA.

In a press release, the European Commission said:

The Commission’s investigation found that Apple presents the features of a gatekeeper in relation to iPadOS, as among others:

  • Apple’s business user numbers exceeded the quantitative threshold elevenfold, while its end user numbers were close to the threshold and are predicted to rise in the near future.
  • End users are locked-in to iPadOS. Apple leverages its large ecosystem to disincentivise end users from switching to other operating systems for tablets.
  • Business users are locked-in to iPadOS because of its large and commercially attractive user base, and its importance for certain use cases, such as gaming apps.

On the basis of the findings of the investigation, the Commission concluded that iPadOS constitutes an important gateway for business users to reach end users, and that Apple enjoys an entrenched and durable position with respect to iPadOS.

In a statement to Bloomberg, an Apple spokesperson said that:

…the company remains focused on delivering for European consumers, “while mitigating the new privacy and data security risks the DMA poses.”

iOS is already subject to the DMA, and Apple’s response meant that actions it took to comply with the law did not apply to iPadOS, leading to incongruous differences between the platforms. With the addition of iPadOS under the purview of the DMA, I expect some of those differences will need to be ironed out.

AltStore Is Now Available in the EU

It’s been ready for a while, but today, AltStore is finally available for iOS users in the EU.

Riley Testus, one of AltStore’s founders, had this to say about the launch:

This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for over 10 years.

I’m thrilled to announce a brand new version of AltStore — AltStore PAL — is launching TODAY as an Apple-approved alternative app marketplace in the EU. AltStore PAL is an open-source app store made specifically for independent developers, designed to address the problems I and so many others have had with the App Store over the years. Basically, if you’ve ever experienced issues with App Review, this is for you!

We’re launching with 2 apps initially: my all-in-one Nintendo emulator Delta — a.k.a. the reason I built AltStore in the first place — and my clipboard manager Clip, a real clipboard manager that can actually run in the background. Delta will be FREE (with no ads!), whereas Clip will require a small donation of €1 or more. Once we’re sure everything is running smoothly we’ll then open the doors to third-party apps — so if you’d like to distribute your app with AltStore, please get in touch.

AltStore is a self-hosted solution, meaning once it starts accepting third-party apps, those developers will have to host and promote their apps themselves. From a user’s standpoint, that means:

…there is no central directory of apps; the only apps you’ll see in AltStore are from sources you’ve explicitly added yourself.

Also, if you’re in the EU and have US and EU Apple IDs, sign into the EU one and download AltStore. Then, you’ll be able to log back in with your US Apple ID if you want, and AltStore will still work.

As Riley explains, this is a lot like Apple’s recently announced web distribution feature in the EU.

Thanks to Federico, we have screenshots.

Thanks to Federico, we have screenshots.

The AltStore team envisions their marketplace as a place for apps from indie developers and those that Apple won’t allow on the App Store, like the team’s Clip app. AltStore will use Patreon donations as its payment system for paid apps, just like AltStore and Delta have been doing for years. Also, AltStore will not take a commission on Patreon donations. However, AltStore will cost €1.50/year to cover Apple’s Core Technology Fee.

It’s exciting to see AltStore live in the EU. I wish it were available in the US too, and I recommend reading Riley’s blog post about what motivated him build AltStore. It’s about more than videogame emulators, which I love. That’s maybe where AltStore started, but it’s about the iOS indie developer community, which I love even more.

A First Look at AltStore in the EU

Callum Booth, writing for The Verge, was able to try a pre-release version of the app marketplace flavor of AltStore, which – pending Apple’s approval – should be one of the first third-party marketplaces under the new DMA regulation. The installation process, as expected, is not exactly straightforward:

It goes like this: you begin by clicking a browser-based link to load the alternative store. From there, you receive a pop-up informing you that your installation settings don’t allow marketplaces from that developer. Then, you head into Settings, enable the marketplace, return to your browser, click the download link again, and receive another prompt asking you to confirm the install. Finally, you can open the store and browse the available apps.

Make sure to check out the screenshots in the story to see what the installation flow looks like in practice. Besides Delta, the Nintendo emulator created by the AltStore developers that has long been available as part of AltStore’s other (non-jailbreak) installation method, Booth tested Clip. This one is interesting since it’s a clipboard manager that can monitor changes to the clipboard in the background – something that is not allowed under traditional App Store rules:

Regarding the app itself, the version of Clip I tried differs from similar software offered on Apple’s App Store in that it constantly runs in the background. Normally, clipboard managers on iOS have to use a variety of workarounds to achieve comparable functionality. For example, Paste requires you to open the app each time you want to add something you’ve copied to the clipboard.

This is where Clip thrives, by comparison. When you copy something, you immediately receive a notification and can swipe down to save it to your clipboard. This means you have the option to add it if it’s something useful — like an address — or dismiss the notification if it’s something you don’t want logged, like a password. I found saving your copied items like this into a centralized location to be incredibly useful, as it makes sharing and reusing these snippets painless.

I’m very curious to see how Apple will go about notarizing apps that rely on native APIs to perform “unexpected” tasks; in this case, it sounds like Clip will integrate with MapKit to let the app stay active in the background and monitor changes to the system clipboard. (Remember when Pastebot for iOS implemented a silent audio track to run in the background? Some things never change.) Regardless, I’m keen to play around with these marketplaces as soon as I can, and I will report back.1

  1. Here’s a fun problem for me at the moment: I live in Italy, haven’t left the country in months, and I use a dual Apple ID setup with an Italian iCloud account and a U.S. App Store account. Despite my geographic location, iOS 17.4 (and the 17.5 beta) won’t let me access any of the new EU-only features yet. For example, the browser selection screen never came up for me after updating to iOS 17.4, and when I tried to install a beta version of AltStore that Riley Testut sent to me, iOS told me that my device isn’t “eligible” to install the app. I have to wonder: will iOS eventually understand that I’m an Italian citizen with a U.S. Apple ID? Or am I living in some kind of weird edge case that will never be fixed? We know that there’s a grace period for users who leave the EU, but what about the other way around? ↩︎

The European Commission Announces an Investigation into Apple and Other Gatekeepers’ Compliance with the DMA

The European Commission (EC) has opened non-compliance investigations against Apple, Google, Meta, and Amazon in connection with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). With respect to Apple, the EC is investigating the company’s approach to uninstalling system apps, changing default settings, and prompting users to pick alternate services, including browsers and search engines.

According to the EC’s press release:

The Commission is concerned that Apple’s measures, including the design of the web browser choice screen, may be preventing users from truly exercising their choice of services within the Apple ecosystem, in contravention of Article 6(3) of the DMA.

The EC is also investigating the fee structure that Apple has implemented in connection with alternative app stores:

Apple’s new fee structure and other terms and conditions for alternative app stores and distribution of apps from the web (sideloading) may be defeating the purpose of its obligations under Article 6(4) of the DMA.

The EC’s press release helpfully reminds Apple and the other DMA gatekeepers that:

In case of an infringement, the Commission can impose fines up to 10% of the company’s total worldwide turnover. Such fines can go up to 20% in case of repeated infringement.

‘Turnover’ is an accounting term typically used in Europe that, for these purposes, is the functional equivalent of total revenue. The EC says that it intends to conclude the investigation announced today within 12 months.


Apple Announces New Distribution Options for iOS Developers in the EU

Apple has announced a trio of additional changes related to iOS developers in the EU where it is subject to the Digital Markets Act. The changes, which are outlined on Apple’s developer website, include:

  • Effective immediately, developers that offer alternative marketplaces will no longer be required to offer apps from other developers, meaning that a company like Meta could open a store with just its apps in the EU.
  • Also effective immediately, Apple has relaxed the requirements surrounding linking out to external webpages from an app. Developers are no longer required to use Apple’s templates, and instead, can design their own interfaces that link out to promotions, discounts, and deals that can be completed outside of the App Store.
  • Later this spring, developers in the EU will be allowed to offer their apps directly from their websites instead of through an alternative marketplace. There are eligibility requirements in Apple’s developer documentation, but this is a significant change that should open up a wider range of storefronts to users.

Whether it’s the result of feedback from developers or pressure from the European Commission, watching the app landscape transformed in very public fits and starts is fascinating.


Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 17.4 with Major Safari and App Store Changes in the EU, Transcripts for Podcasts, New Emoji, and More

Today, Apple released iOS and iPadOS 17.4, the fourth major updates to the operating systems that launched in September and Federico reviewed on MacStories.

iOS 17.4 is a significant release, bringing major platform changes to iOS in Europe as part of Apple’s response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), as well as a handful of new features, including transcripts in Apple’s Podcasts app, new emoji, multilingual updates to Siri, and more.

Let’s dive in, starting with the main changes for iPhone owners in the EU.

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