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Apple now allows alternative app stores in the EU and game streaming apps worldwide

Apple just announced two massive changes to its App Store ecosystem, in some of the biggest app news in recent memory. EU citizens are about to get access to third-party app stores, while the whole world can now access game streaming services on iOS. Both were banned on the App Store until now.

Third-party stores

As we anticipated earlier this month, Apple is set to effectively split its App Store in two, with one version for the EU and one for the rest of the world.

EU-based iPhone users will soon gain the ability to use third-party app stores. These capabilities are already live for beta testers, while the general public will have to wait until the release of iOS 17.4 in March.

This is in response to the EU’s impending Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates that “gatekeeper” platforms like Apple’s App Store must open up to alternative app stores and sideloading.

For those in the EU, this change has some major benefits.

First is the ability to legally install apps that Apple would never normally allow on iOS, such as video game emulators and virtual machine hosts, without jailbreaking a device.

Second is the possibility of lower fees and subscription costs, as developers are no longer beholden to Apple’s commission in these regions. Third-party app stores may choose to take a smaller commission, and developers may choose to pass on those savings to consumers.

To combat this and keep developers on board, Apple is slashing its commission rates in the EU. It’s also rather deviously introducing a small per-install fee for third-party app stores, which critics are describing as “malicious compliance.”

The rest of the world will be stuck with a single, Apple-operated App Store on iOS – at least for now. It will be interesting to see whether increased market freedom in the EU sets a precedent that changes things globally over the coming years.


Game streaming apps

Apple announced a second App Store change, and this one takes effect immediately all across the world. Cloud gaming apps like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce NOW are finally allowed on the iOS App Store.

These services grant users access to a library of online games that can be played without individually downloading or installing each title, by streaming from a cloud server. Previously, these weren’t permitted on the App Store and had to make do as browser-based web apps.

The change should improve the experience for iOS users, and is good news for gamers who want to get their fix via iPhone or iPad!