Apple has been making preparations to open the gates of iOS to allow third-party app marketplaces and apps on its platform in the European Union (EU). It recently rolled out the iOS 17.4 betas versions of the upcoming update that added support for alternative marketplaces. Now, the iPhone maker has released updates for App Store Connect and TestFlight apps to onboard these developers. It has also asked the alternative marketplaces to make submissions for the notarisation process for the third-party apps that will be made available on iOS.
Announcing the changes to the two apps on its developer website, Apple said that developers in the EU can now add their marketplaces to the App Store Connect app that lets developers monitor their app’s sales and downloads, reply to App Store reviews, get notifications for new reviews, and more. Similarly, changes have been made to the TestFlight app, which lets developers beta-test new features before rolling it out.
But before alternative marketplaces can be added to the iOS ecosystem, the developers will have to agree to Apple’s business terms and complete the notarisation process. According to a report by MacRumors, business terms include a core technology fee that Apple is charging both the marketplace and the app by the number of installs. Third-party marketplaces will have to pay EUR 0.50 (roughly Rs. 45) per instal, and apps will have to pay the same amount after completing one million instals.
The notarisation process will also be important for third-party marketplaces and apps as Apple will determine whether an app is malicious or not. While a process like that is needed to ensure user safety from scammers and hackers, some have raised concerns about whether Apple will use this to disqualify competing apps and marketplaces.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, is among those who voiced their displeasure when Apple first announced the process. In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter), he called the payment by instals a “junk fee”. On the notarisation process, he said, “Epic has always supported the notion of Apple notarisation and malware scanning for apps, but we strongly reject Apple’s twisting this process to undermine competition and continue imposing Apple taxes on transactions they’re not involved in.”
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