Apple is actively working to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to make digital markets in the EU more contestable and fairer. To comply with the EU DMA, Apple has made several changes to its entire EU system. In this article, we’ll look at the top 5 changes the company has made so far. However, before we continue, let’s briefly discuss what the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA) is.

EU Digital Markets Act (DMA)

The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) aims to regulate large online platforms known as “gatekeepers” to ensure fair and open digital markets. These watchdogs are platforms with a strong economic position, significant impact on the domestic market and operations in multiple EU countries. The DMA establishes specific criteria for identifying these watchdogs and imposes duties on them to promote fair competition.

Key aspects of DMA include:

  • Providing fair business opportunities for users who depend on watchdogs.
  • Creating new opportunities for innovators and start-ups in the online platform environment.
  • Offering consumers more choice, better services, fair prices and the ability to switch providers.
  • Imposing obligations on watchdogs, such as allowing third-party interoperability, providing access to user data, and preventing unfair practices such as favoring their services in leaderboards.
  • Enforcement of compliance through fines of up to 10% of annual turnover and additional remedies for systemic violations.

The DMA is a significant step towards ensuring competition, innovation and fairness in the digital sector within the EU.

1. Sideloading Apps

Apple is introducing sideloading and alternative app stores to iPhones specifically for users in the European Union (EU) starting with iOS 17.4 in March 2024. The move is in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) set by the European Commission, which aims to encourage competition and empower users by allowing the installation of apps from sources outside the official App Store. Although sideloading will be allowed, Apple will still maintain control by requiring approval for third-party markets and app notarization. Developers can choose between using Apple’s payment services or integrating a third-party system, with different commissions according to their choice.

Apple App Store Rules

Apple’s plan to sideload apps in iOS 17.2 is limited to mobile device management (MDM), which allows the company’s mobile device managers to push apps to phones instead of allowing users to directly sideload apps. This approach is intended to maintain security and control over application distribution while complying with regulatory requirements. The impact of sideloading on Apple’s revenue and user experience remains uncertain, with potential challenges in getting users to move from Apple’s ecosystem to alternative app stores and payment methods.

2. Allowing alternative payment methods

In the European Union, Apple is introducing new options for transactions with digital goods and services in the App Store. Developers can now use alternative payment service providers for in-app purchases and link to external web pages to complete transactions. These changes are available to users in the 27 EU member states from March 2024. To use these new payment options, developers must agree to the Alternative Terms Addendum for apps distributed in the EU and use specific entitlements such as StoreKit External Purchase Entitlement or StoreKit External Purchase Link Entitlement.

3. Changes to the Safari browser

Apple has made significant changes to its Safari browser in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union (EU). These changes include providing a selection screen for EU users when they open Safari for the first time after updating to iOS 17.4. This selection screen will allow users to select their preferred browser from a list of options available in their market.

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Apple also recently announced plans to allow European Union (EU) iPhone users to uninstall the Safari browser. This is another move by the company in compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The move is part of Apple’s efforts to improve consumer choice and comply with EU regulations. According to a compliance document published by Apple, iPhone users in Europe can uninstall the Safari browser before the end of 2024. Apple will introduce the option for EU-based iPhone users to give them more control over the software on their devices.


4. New app distribution options

Apple introduced new app distribution options in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). These changes include:

  • New options for distributing iOS apps from alternative app markets, with new APIs and tools available to developers.
  • New frameworks and APIs for creating alternative app marketplaces, allowing developers to install apps from those marketplaces.
  • New frameworks and APIs for alternative browser engines, allowing developers to use browser engines other than WebKit for browser applications and in-app browsing.
  • Interoperability request form for developers to submit additional iPhone and iOS interoperability requests.

These changes are intended to comply with DMA while giving users more control over their choice of applications. Apple is implementing safeguards such as iOS app notarization, app install sheets, Marketplace Developer Authorization, and additional malware protections to reduce the risks associated with these new distribution options.

5. Improved user controls and security

Apple has improved controls and consumer protections in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in the European Union. These changes from Apple aim to reduce privacy and security risks for iOS users in the EU. Some of the key fixes include new app distribution options, payment processing, and advanced protections to mitigate DMA risks.

  • Changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store: Apple is introducing more than 600 new APIs, advanced app analytics, functionality for alternative browser engines, and payment processing options for apps and app distribution for iOS. These changes come with new safeguards to address the risks posed by DMA while striving to provide a secure user experience.
  • User security and privacy safeguards: Apple implements safeguards to protect the security, privacy and safety of users while allowing sideloading and alternative payment methods in the EU App Store. These measures aim to identify and prevent malicious applications, ensuring a secure environment for users.
  • Concerns Addressed: Apple acknowledges the concerns of governments and consumers regarding the risks associated with alternative app stores and payment processors in iOS. The company works to innovate and protect users within the legal framework, while striving to maintain a secure platform.

Apple App Store

These changes reflect Apple’s commitment to DMA compliance while prioritizing user security, privacy and the overall experience within the EU.


In conclusion, Apple’s proactive response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) underscores its commitment to promoting fair competition and empowering consumers within the digital ecosystem. The first 5 changes implemented by Apple, including sideloading apps enabling alternative payment methods, modifications to the Safari browser, new app distribution options and improved user controls, reflect a strategic approach to compliance by prioritizing security, privacy and user experience the users.

By introducing measures such as side loading, alternative payment options and browser selection screens, Apple is expanding consumer choice and fostering a more competitive digital environment. These changes are intended to address regulatory concerns while maintaining the integrity of Apple’s ecosystem and protecting the interests of consumers.

Apple’s efforts to comply with the DMA demonstrate a willingness to adapt to the changing regulatory landscape and prioritize consumer empowerment and protection. When these changes come into force, they are set to shape the digital landscape in the EU, promoting innovation, competition and consumer welfare in the digital market.

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Top 5 major changes as Apple complies with EU’s Digital Markets Act