Digital Markets Act

Apple to let European users download apps directly from developers web sites

Apple will let European users download apps directly from developers starting this spring

If you’re a confused developer in the EU trying to follow Apple’s ever-changing guidelines, you’re not the only one. Apple keep reversing their position in an effort to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Apple are now introducing a new way to distribute apps directly from a developer’s website but don’t get too excited, as this is only going to apply to large, “approved” developers.

Apple had previously said that app downloads in Europe could only happen via its App Store or an approved third-party marketplace. The company says developers will still need to pay a “core technology fee” unless they receive a waiver, something given to schools, nonprofits and government entities.

In addition, Apple says marketplaces can now choose to provide a catalog of apps solely from the developer of the marketplace. The company also notes the new option of “linking out to purchase” as part of the changes.

Developers who’ve agreed to the Alternative Terms Addendum for Apps in the EU have new options for their apps in the EU:

  • 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.

The company now lets corporate entities sign up for the new terms at the developer account level, rather than by “each membership that controls, is controlled by, or is under control with another membership.”

In addition, Apple says developers now have a one-time option to terminate amended agreements and go back to Apple’s standard business terms for EU apps, under certain conditions, a change designed to lower the risk of unexpected business changes.

The company also wants to make it easier for developers to create alternative app marketplaces by allowing them to qualify without a stand-by letter of credit.

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 authorised 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. 

New developers or those who didn’t rack up at least a million downloads in the EU last year won’t be eligible. To qualify for Web Distribution, a developer must be “a member of good standing in the Apple Developer Program for two continuous years or more, and have an app that had more than one million first annual installs on iOS in the EU in the prior calendar year,”

Users will need to approve a developer in the iOS settings before downloading apps from that developer’s website.

“When installing an app, a system sheet will display information that developers have submitted to Apple for review, like the app name, developer name, app description, screenshots, and system age rating,” Apple says.

Apple says it estimates that, due to the 1 million-install threshold, “less than 1 percent of developers would pay a Core Technology Fee on their EU apps.” 

Nonprofits, accredited schools, and government entities can apply for fee waivers.