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Apple will let EU iPhone users download apps from websites for the first time in iOS history

Published Mar 12th, 2024 8:14AM EDT
iPhone 15 Pro showing App Store ahead of iOS 17.4 beta release
Image: José Adorno for BGR

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Today, Apple announced a new option to download iPhone apps in the EU, as, starting this spring, Cupertino will allow developers to distribute their iOS apps to EU users directly from a website owned by the developer.

As part of the Digital Markets Act, which has added alternative app marketplaces for EU users, Apple plans to add another possibility for customers to download iPhone apps. Here’s what Apple announced in its Developer blog:

“Web Distribution, available with a software update later this spring, will let authorized developers distribute their iOS apps to EU users directly from a website owned by the developer. Apple will provide authorized developers access to APIs that facilitate the distribution of their apps from the web, integrate with system functionality, back up and restore users’ apps, and more. “

In addition to a software update, which might come with iOS 17.5, this means developers need to agree to the Alternative Terms Addendum for Apps in the EU. When developers agree with this change, they’re no longer committing to existing App Store rules, although there are some downsides to choosing this “freedom” when promoting their own apps.

That said, here’s what the flexibility means for downloading iPhone apps in the EU for these developers:

  • Alternative app marketplaces: Marketplaces can choose to offer a catalog of apps solely from the developer of the marketplace.
  • Linking out to purchase: When directing users to complete a transaction for digital goods or services on an external webpage, developers can choose how to design promotions, discounts, and other deals. The Apple-provided design templates, which are optimized for key purchase and promotional use cases, are now optional.

That said, when downloading iPhone apps in the near future, EU users will have a similar experience to everyone else’s experience with the Mac. Despite the Mac App Store, it’s possible to download the software right through the developer’s website.

BGR will let you know once Apple changes how apps are distributed in the European Union.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.