Apple has added support for alternative app markets on iPhone devices with the iOS 17.4 update, after a long wait. However, it has now published a support document explaining the nuances surrounding the feature’s eligibility. Surprisingly, the Cupertino-based tech giant said it may suspend access to markets if a user travels outside the countries and regions belonging to the European Union (EU) for a long period of time. Pre-installed apps will also not be updated until the user is back in the EU.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) came into effect on March 6, and according to the guidelines, Apple now allows users to download third-party markets to the iPhone and install apps through them. These apps will not have to pay a registration fee or use the tech giant’s payment processing system and pay an additional fee for doing so. However, he also published a long post highlighting the eligibility criteria for users to take advantage of this feature and factors that may cause it to not work.

According to the guidelines issued by the iPhone manufacturer, the user’s Apple ID country or region must be set to one of the EU countries or regions. Additionally, the user must be physically located in the region. The company will monitor whether both criteria are met by processing the device and claims it will not collect the location of the device. In the event that a user leaves the EU for a long period of time, they will lose access to some of the features, including the ability to install new alternative markets and update pre-installed third-party applications. However, the apps will continue to function. The tech giant also added that it would give a grace period for users who travel outside of Europe for a short period of time, although it did not define what constitutes short-term and long-term travel.

The post also highlights the list of countries and regions eligible for alternative app markets. These are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Additionally, Apple has also stated that it will not provide customer support in case users encounter issues with alternative app markets. Privacy and security issues, including fraud, scams and abuse, will also not be addressed by the company. It should be noted that at the time of this writing, there are no third-party app markets available for iOS.

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