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.

12 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Who is making it a confusing mess, John?

John Gruber: “Apple is not a spiteful company.”
Phil the Schill: “HOLD MY BEER!”

If Phil Schiller stabs a Mac user in the eye, Gruber is going to swear that he personally saw Margrethe Vestager do it.

Old Unix Geek

This is quite ridiculous. Many Europeans get 5 or 6 weeks vacation a year. And then there are all those digital nomads. Wonder whether a VPN would get around this...

Making it hard, blaming others, spinning the news...
To me these are the screams of a control giant who knows that change is coming.
Ultimately Apple won't be able to hold this tide.

Apple cares about user privacy, except when they track your location in order to be vindictive.

> Who is making it a confusing mess, John?

Both the EU and Apple. The EU for being incompetent like most regulators regulating things they know nothing about (as they have an inability to actually create regulations that would result in any sort of meaningful change).

And Apple for clearly understanding the EU’s *intentions* like we all do but are willing to exploit their incompetence for as long as they can.

Yes, the EU regulators aren’t writing what I would consider ideal legislation, but we can thank them for USB-C iPhones and now alternative app stores and browsers on iPhones. I’d consider that meaningful change.

@Old Unix Geek I wouldn’t count on the VPN. I think they’re going to check it similarly to the other geolocked features like Siri suggestions or emergency SOS via satellite.

I think it's a bit early to say whether the DMA and DSA are well written.

Gdpr sure could have been better and I think the EU had learned a lot since then.

I'm still not sure if Apple proposed solution is greenlit or not.

On Apple turning off Apple IDs for not being present for long enough in that country is something I would have never thought of them doing until this shit. Now ... I can see them doing it to maintain control or "to protect user privacy".

I can't even remember when I made my Apple ID only that I was in the US when I did it and still lived there all my paper. If there is to be a future where I only have access to the scant collection of apps in the Korean App Store, then that is the point where I switch from regular user to regular hater.

>> Who is making it a confusing mess, John?
>Both the EU and Apple

It's mainly Apple. The regulation is pretty straightforward, and the intention is clear. Instead of just making a reasonable effort at complying, Apple found every possible loophole and invented some that aren't even there. To what end? To force the EU to make the rules stricter?

It's just braindead behavior from a company that has entirely lost its way.

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