Apple announced on Thursday its intentions to accommodate software developers in the European Union by permitting them to distribute their apps through channels other than Apple’s own App Store.

This strategic shift comes as a response to the new EU law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates that companies meeting certain criteria, such as having over 45 million monthly active users and a market capitalisation exceeding €75 billion (US$82 billion), must make their apps compatible with rival platforms and grant users the choice to pre-install apps on their devices.

Commencing in March, developers will have the freedom to offer alternative app stores on iPhones and opt out of using Apple’s in-app payment system, which currently imposes commissions of up to 30 percent. Nevertheless, developers will still be obliged to submit their apps to Apple for review regarding cybersecurity risks and fraud, with Apple imposing a “core technology fee” on major app developers, irrespective of whether they utilise Apple’s payment services.

Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, known for its popular game “Fortnite,” criticised Apple’s proposed changes, labelling them as “hot garbage” and questioning their legality under the DMA.

Apple’s decision to release tools for developers to adjust their business arrangements underscores the company’s commitment to complying with legal and regulatory obligations. Consumers can anticipate these changes with an iOS operating system update scheduled for March.

This development marks a significant departure from Apple’s previous stance, as the tech giant navigates a landscape of legal and regulatory challenges to its once-dominant App Store model.

While Apple has made concessions in response to recent legal rulings, such as allowing third-party payment links in the United States, it continues to face scrutiny over its commissions and restrictions from companies like Epic and Spotify.

In the EU, developers will enjoy greater flexibility, with the ability to utilize third-party payment processors within App Store apps at no cost. Additionally, EU iPhone users will gain the option to choose default web browsers and contactless payments apps, providing more autonomy over their digital experiences.

Despite these concessions, developers opting out of Apple’s ecosystem will still incur a “core technology fee” of 50 euro cents per user account per year, with exemptions for nonprofits, schools, and governments. However, the threshold triggering this fee remains unspecified.

Apple’s response to the DMA signals a paradigm shift in its approach to app distribution, as the company navigates a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape while striving to maintain its position as a leading player in the global tech industry.