After biding its time, Apple has finally spoken up about the upcoming application of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) to its mobile platforms.
The changes are going to be pretty big in EU countries, allowing in-app subscriptions where Apple takes a smaller cut, and the return of some pretty major services and software as a result.
Epic Games has already confirmed that it will bring a native Fortnite app back to iOS for users in the applicable countries, and there's a strong expectation that we'll also see multiple alternative third-party app stores on Apple's own devices.
Fortnite will return to iOS in Europe in 2024, distributed by the upcoming @EpicGames Store for iOS. Stay tuned for details as we figure out the regulatory timeline. We'll continue to argue to the courts and regulators that Apple is breaking the law. https://t.co/MHh6EGVinCJanuary 25, 2024
However, those in the UK heralding such change should take a step or two back, the company has confirmed in a press release that it will indeed only be making the majority of changes available to users in EU countries, rather than rolling them out widely.
That means that like US, Canadian and Australian iPhone owners, Brits are also unlikely to get a sniff of them without local legislation. The UK is no longer a part of the European Union, after all.
Apple's public line is that the changes the EU is insisting upon will make iOS a less secure platform as far as payment processing and reliability is concerned.
It says that it will make some changes to accommodate these new policies, though, including what it's calling Notarization, a new system that will seemingly require all apps to be reviewed (including by a human) to check that they're passing muster.
Quite far down the release, there's a telling segment about new fee structures, too, which is already attracting criticism from some developers (including Epic Games' Tim Sweeney, who remains outspoken on the issue).
One of these stipulates that developers will have to "pay €0.50 for each first annual install per year over a one million threshold", which has likely incensed Epic Games, knowing that it could result in a bill of millions of Euros if Fortnite's return to the platform is massively successful.
It's not just the App Store, though – Safari will also get a new screen the first time you ever open it, offering you the choice of other browsers to set as your default.
The system should all click into place just before 7 March this year, when the law comes into effect. Although if you're not a resident in an EU country, you're unlikely to notice much difference when it does.