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Apple plans to charge developers if they offer sideloaded apps

In anticipation of upcoming European tech regulations, Apple is getting ready for a significant change that will require users to download apps from sources other than its familiar App Store. This process, known as sideloading, is expected to be limited to iOS users within the European Union, aligning with the requirements of the bloc’s Digital Markets Act.

While Apple has kept details of its sideloading strategy under wraps, recent insights from The Wall Street Journal suggest that the tech giant is planning to charge developers fees for offering downloads outside the App Store. Additionally, it appears that Apple will implement a review process for downloads that bypass its official storefront.

Although Apple’s plan is not yet finalized, this potential approach reflects a notable shift observed in its US App Store policies. A recent change allows US developers to include in-app purchases that circumvent the App Store’s traditional billing system. However, developers are still obligated to pay a substantial commission of 27% on such transactions (with a reduced 12% for smaller developers), and Apple retains the right to audit developers’ records for compliance.

This adjustment has sparked criticism from developers like Epic Games and Spotify, who have long contested the App Store’s strict rules and fees. With the Digital Markets Act set to be enforced on March 7, the tech community eagerly awaits Apple’s compliance plan. Spotify, a vocal opponent of the App Store’s commission structure, has already offered a glimpse into the user experience of its European app, showcasing the ability to make payments within the app for subscriptions and audiobooks.

In another interesting development, Meta, a prominent critic of Apple, is reportedly working on “Project Neon,” an initiative focused on distributing developers’ apps through Facebook ads. This ambitious effort strategically positions Meta to compete more directly with the App Store, particularly in the European market. As the tech landscape undergoes a transformation to adhere to new regulations, industry players are actively adapting and positioning themselves to navigate potential challenges and seize emerging opportunities.

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