Apple has today revealed the raft of changes coming to iOS to allow the operating system and the company’s practices to comply with the new European Union (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA) which essentially has opened up much of Apple’s highly restrictive practices to third parties.

To be very clear, none of this will change on your Aussie iPhone, but – with the foot now in the door, regulators around the world will likely look at the detail of the EU regulation and how if possible it may be implemented for their own benefit – including the Australian Government who already have the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) working on these kinds of issues in the behalf of Australian users.

Apple isn’t happy either, saying of the changes “Apple has less ability to address other risks — including apps that contain scams, fraud, and abuse, or that expose users to illicit, objectionable, or harmful content.

In addition, apps that use alternative browser engines — other than Apple’s WebKit — may negatively affect the user experience, including impacts to system performance and battery life.”

As you’d expect though, they haven’t made the changes without a lot of their own detailed thought.

The most controversial Apple developer rule for many years has been the 30% commission the company takes on in-app purchases. Some years ago this was changed to allow smaller developers with less revenue to pay half that, but the big guys were still very very unhappy.

While many believed forcing Apple to allow “third party marketplaces” would mean Zero commissions, they were sadly mistaken. Apple will still require every app to be “notarised” which means basically tagged and tested, and checked for basic compliance. And, if you’ve had a million downloads of an app, you’ll then start paying 50 Euro Cents PER DOWNLOAD as a “Core Technology” Fee, basically Apple charging you because they made the platform you are benefiting from.

No doubt EPIC Games the makers of Fortnite will not love this. Their “Free” game will cost them 50c every download, not ideal really.

In the EU these new “App Stores” which Apple is calling App marketplaces will be downloaded directly from developer websites, the user will get clear permission notification and approvals, as they will for every app, but Apple still believes this opens up risks to privacy and security of devices.

One key area not thought about by the multi-millionaires making these big apps, or by the aging regulators trying to be seen as free and open are Parental Controls.

Apple has some of the most detailed and usable parental controls of any digital device on the planet. Parents using Family Sharing can get access to information about what their kids are doing, but most importantly limit their time on certain apps, and critically approve the installation of those apps in the first place. This is called “Ask to Buy” and EFTM understands that in the EU under these new regulations these third party marketplaces will essentially bypass those Family Sharing and Ask to Buy protocols.

That means your teenager (or anyone with an iPhone using Family Sharing) will just need to go to a developer website, download the new Marketplace, agree to all the permissions, then download any app, agree to those permission – without the listed Parent or Guardian ever even knowing about it.

Additionally, these third party apps and marketplaces do not need to comply with Apple’s own content regulations, meaning illicit and pornographic content will be available on Third Party Marketplaces and Apps.

Just like the EU’s amazing GDPR or “Cookie Law” – the idea is great, let people know that information about them is being collected. Here too the intention is pure, to allow more access to developers and less control and fees by Apple.

Problem is, we all just click “I agree” and don’t care about the cookie pop ups, they are annoying.

This DMA regulation seeks to make a better system, but the worst outcomes from it will be what it’s known for.

Will it come to Australia?

Likely in time there will be changes proposed. The banks will want access to that NFC chip for their apps and wallets, and the ACCC will think they’re doing things in the interest of consumers by opening up iPhones to third party app stores. So mark my words, we’ll hear about it.