Monday, March 28, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Proposed Digital Markets Act to Require Sideloading

Tim Hardwick:

European lawmakers have provisionally agreed upon a new law that would force Apple to allow user access to third-party app stores and permit the sideloading of apps on iPhones and iPads, among other sweeping changes designed to make the digital sector fairer and more competitive.

[…]

Today’s announcement focuses on services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, which will have to “open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request,” according to the EU. “Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice.”

[…]

In addition, Apple would have to allow users to uninstall its Safari browser and other stock apps so that they can replace them with third-party alternatives if they so wish.

Damien Petrilli:

+ sideloading
+ alternative stores
+ can’t force any payment system
+ NFC must be accessible
+ must be able to set all default apps

Yup. Apple lost on all fronts.

Nick Lockwood:

Remember cookie banners and GDPR compliance? Companies will simply find the most user-hostile possible interpretation and then implement it in a way that makes it such a burden to use that everybody opts out.

Jon Porter and James Vincent:

“We believe that the owner of a smartphone should have the freedom to choose how to use it,” said European Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke in an emailed statement. “This freedom includes being able to opt for alternative sources of apps on your smartphone. With the DMA, a smartphone owner would still be able to enjoy safe and secure services of the default app store on their smart phones. On top of that, if a user so chooses, the DMA would allow a smartphone owner to also opt for other safe app stores.”

[…]

The DMA has not yet been voted into law by the European Parliament but is expected to be approved without much trouble. That could mean the DMA coming into force as early as October this year. Members states of the EU will then be able to choose how exactly to interpret the EU act into national law.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

An implementation deadline of October is going to mean all hands on deck for Apple to get all of this done for iOS 16.

Previously:

Update (2022-04-13): tumult:

Looks like this would also force Microsoft to let you uninstall Edge and set your browser defaults properly again.

(For non-Windows users not keeping up, a few months ago, Microsoft went back to their pre-antitrust behavior and is forcing their Chromium clone on users.)

Previously:

6 Comments

If this becomes law, will these new features be available to users outside of the EU?

"Companies will simply find the most user-hostile possible interpretation and then implement it in a way that makes it such a burden to use that everybody opts out."

Dunno, clicking on "only necessary cookies" doesn't seem that burdensome to me, and that ignores all the other real benefits GDPR brings.

But also, this attitude is a huge part of what prevents us from having truly effective laws. One side doesn't believe that laws can do good, the other side hires tons of lobbyists to make sure the laws do exactly what they want. Guess who wins.

(I think GDPR is an important first step. Imperfect, but something other nations can build on and improve.)

> Dunno, clicking on "only necessary cookies" doesn't seem that burdensome to me

There are dark patterns to it. For example, a lot of websites have you choose categories of cookies, then offer a highlighted "Accept All" button and a muted "Save Choices" button. If you read the button label carefully, it's clear that one will ignore your choices altogether, but it's surprisingly easy to fall for this trap.

I imagine it's tricky to encode "don't deliberately trick the consumer" into law.

Old Unix Geek

Yay!

I hope Apple and Google behave gracefully, and realize the game is up.

If they don't, I suppose they could try shenanigans like "You can only use XCode if you accept to sell via the AppStore." Or, "Use of XCode now costs 30% of your revenue". Or "Only apps using XCode are allowed in the App Store. And you can only sell apps outside the EU in the AppStore." Etc.

Such tricks probably would eventually get shot down by the EU amending its laws, but they would make things unpleasant for another while.

> You can only use XCode if you accept to sell via the AppStore.

Honestly, that would only accelerate third parties using React Native, XamForms/Maui, Flutter. Even Apple hopefully doesn't have enough hubris for such a footgun.

> You can only use XCode if you accept to sell via the AppStore.

Don't get my hopes up!

Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.

Leave a Comment