Apple’s walled garden approach to its mobile operating system has served it well for the past decade and change, but one of those walls might be in danger of collapsing. Bloomberg reports that Apple is currently deciding whether or not it should allow iOS users to set third-party web browser and email apps as their default options, overriding Safari and the Mail app whenever they click a link to open a website or send an email.
Third-party apps have been available from the App Store since its inception in 2008, but Apple has never given iOS users the choice to decide which app they want to serve as the default. In recent years, this has been scrutinized by lawmakers who are probing antitrust violations in the industry, which might explain the timing.
In addition to browsers and email apps, Apple is also said to be working on letting third-party music services such as Spotify run directly on the HomePod smart speaker. As it stands, the only way to play music on the HomePod from a service other than Apple Music is by streaming from an iPhone or iPad via AirPlay, which is needlessly complicated and punishes anyone who uses a different service, even if they paid for a HomePod.
With these restrictions in place, it’s no surprise that the HomePod has failed to make a dent in the market.
Similarly, Apple is also discussing whether to allow iOS users to set third-party music services as the default with Siri. In other words, if you set Pandora as your default music app, any time you said “Hey Siri, play Backstreet Boys,” the music would automatically start streaming from Pandora rather than from Apple Music.
Everything proposed above is still under discussion, and Bloomberg says that no decisions have been made, but if Apple does decide to implement these changes, they could be a part of iOS 14 this summer.