Archive for March 8, 2024

Friday, March 8, 2024

App Marketplaces Will Stop Working If You Travel Outside the EU

Benjamin Mayo (AppleInsider, MacRumors):

iOS 17.4 in the European Union brings Apple’s first operating system release that complies with the regulatory framework of the Digital Markets Act. This includes support for alternative app stores — or as Apple calls them, ‘alternative app marketplaces’ — which allows iPhone users to download apps from outside the walls of the Apple App Store for the first time.

The availability of functionality is geo-restricted to the EU only, and Apple has detailed for the first time how it detects this. But perhaps more surprisingly, it also turns out that existing app marketplaces you have downloaded to your device will stop working if you leave the EU for too long.


As long as your Apple ID origin is one of those countries, and you physically reside in them, the app marketplace features will be available.


This is not the case for the App Store. A German account can install apps and purchase content from the German App Store even if you’re gone for “too long”


IIUC this is a deliberate act of aggression by Apple - which is important to note. Apple already has regional accounts, so the infrastructure for this is in place already, for preexisting reasons. My Apple ID is still within US after months of being in the EU. They have not “kicked me out” yet.


Optically, this is the behavior you’d expect from companies that stopped innovating and are clinging onto power with the power of lawyers. It seems like an incredibly small hill to sacrifice your reputation on.

Are their long term ambitions to live off the 30% cut? Because it sure as hell appears like they’re fighting an existential battle, which doesn’t inspire confidence in their visionary leadership. Perhaps the best thing for Apple is to take away their comfort blanket, so they’re setting sights on innovation again.

Dare Obasanjo:

Apple’s VP of Malicious Compliance has been firing on all cylinders when it comes to “compliance” with the DMA.

Eric Schwarz:

Apple really doesn’t want you using alternative app marketplaces[…]

Kirk McElhearn:

Currently, you can get app updates even if you’re not in the country where your Apple ID is registered. If they shut that off, that’s very dangerous.

Peter Steinberger:

Apple will not block apps from alternative app stores, just disable updating, making it fail slowly and making it look like the vendor is bad. 👍

Jeff Johnson:

What if the app needs a security update? Apple claims this is all about security, but it’s obviously a lie.

John Gruber:

What a confusing mess this is shaping up to be.

Juli Clover:

Apple today clarified that iPhone users in the European Union can continue to update and use apps from alternative app marketplaces for a 30-day period when leaving the EU.

Oliver Haslam (Hacker News):

Whether or not that will be something the European Commission takes issue with, remains to be seen. After all, an EU citizen is an EU citizen even after they leave the EU.


Update (2024-03-11): SheriefFYI:

“On your 31st day of international travel you lose access to security updates for some apps” is an actual threat to the security of EU users of iPhones and there’s no way to spin this as anything else.

Apple Tweaks New EU App Store Business Terms

Apple (MacRumors):

To make it easier for more developers to sign up for the new terms, we’ve removed the corporate entity requirement that the Addendum must be signed by each membership that controls, is controlled by, or is under control with another membership.


To help reduce the risk of unexpected business changes under the new terms, such as reaching massive scale more quickly than anticipated, or if you simply change your mind, we’ve created a one-time option to terminate the Addendum under certain circumstances and switch back to Apple’s standard business terms for your EU apps.


To make it easier for developers who want to create alternative app marketplaces, we’ve added a new eligibility criteria that lets developers qualify without a stand-by letter of credit.


Do either of the following: (1) Provide Apple a stand-by letter of credit in the amount of €1,000,000 from a financial institution that’s at least A-rated or equivalent by S&P, Fitch, or Moody’s, and maintain that standby letter of credit as long as your alternative app marketplace is in operation; or (2) 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.

Jeff Johnson:

Not sure how (2) is much better than (1).

Ryan Jones:

Apple just effectively lowered their commission to 20%/13% in the EU, until you’re over 1M EU downloads/year.

Steps: Opt-in. Stay in App Store. Use IAP. Pay 20%/13% instead of 30%/15%. Switch back right before you hit 1M EU downloads/yr. 🤔

Kosta Eleftheriou:

Apple warns users that they may find certain apps on alternative marketplaces that wouldn’t be allowed on the App Store, while simultaneously telling developers they’d reject such apps for any store.

Which is it, Apple?


DropDMG 3.6.7

DropDMG 3.6.7 is a maintenance update to my app for creating and working with Mac disk image files. This version improves the reliability of positioning icons on the mounted .dmg file and includes various documentation and Sonoma updates.

Some interesting bugs were:

audioOS 17.4

Juli Clover (release notes):

With HomePod Software 17.4, Siri is able to learn what a user’s preferred media service is, eliminating the need to set a third-party app as the default or include an app name when asking Siri to play content.


Apple has removed the Home app option that let users select a default media service as a result of the new feature addition. The change brings the HomePod in line with the iPhone and the iPad, which already offer the option to provide a default music service selection to Siri when making a song request for the first time.


tvOS 17.4

Juli Clover (release notes, security):

tvOS 17.4 updates are often minor in scale, focusing on bug fixes and other small improvements. We did not find new features during the tvOS 17.4 beta testing process.


Update (2024-04-01): John Siracusa:

The team responsible for the FaceTime app on tvOS needs a VERY stern talking-to. Just for starters, take a look at the menu that appears when trying to start a call with a person.

Now imagine if it actually showed the emails or phone numbers for any of these choices. But no, you just have to guess! It’s on a giant TV screen! There’s plenty of room! It is MADDENING!

Launching the app often shows this screen, in which no button presses or swipes on the remote will do ANYTHING. Like, nothing. No item changes appearance. No actions can be triggered. Force-quitting the app and re-launching it usually “fixes” it.


The interface for trying to add one or more people to an existing call is even more byzantine and full of UI dead ends and traps, but I don’t have the energy to set up a test call to screenshot it all.