Apple will allow web distribution of apps in the EU, with a catch

Apple iPhone 15 pro AM AH1

Apple today introduced the Web Distribution of iOS apps, set to become available with a software update later this spring. It will enable authorized developers to distribute their iOS apps directly to EU users from their own websites. This move is significant as it allows developers to bypass the traditional route of distributing apps through the App Store or other third-party stores. An advantage of this is the possibility of avoiding the fees that some third-party app stores require. However, it comes with tight restrictions and requirements set by Apple. The company says these are implemented to ensure user safety and privacy.

Apple will still have significant control over the app distribution

“Apple will provide access to APIs that facilitate the distribution of developers’ apps from the web, integrate with system functionality, back up and restore users’ apps, and more,” notes the company. Additionally, developers must ensure that apps offered through Web Distribution meet Notarization requirements to protect platform integrity. Apple will only allow developers to use an Apple Store Connect registered domain to host their app.

Users will also need to approve the developer to install apps in their iPhone settings before installing an app. Then a system sheet will display information provided by developers to Apple for review, such as app name, developer name, description, screenshots, and age rating.

To be eligible for Web Distribution, developers must be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program as an organization incorporated, domiciled, or registered in the EU. Additionally, developers must be members of “good standing” in the Apple Developer Program for two continuous years or more and have an app with more than one million first annual installs on iOS in the EU in the prior calendar year. Developers must agree to various commitments, including being responsive to communications from Apple, publishing transparent data collection policies, and following applicable laws.

Web Distribution of apps will also include Apple’s “Core Technology Fee”

There are also financial considerations for developers using Web Distribution. Apple will charge a Core Technology Fee (CTF) for apps distributed through Web Distribution, the same as the third-party marketplaces in EU. Membership in the Apple Developer Program includes one million first annual installs per year for free, and developers will pay a CTF of €0.50 for each first annual install over one million in the past 12 months. Additionally, developers are responsible for collecting, reporting, and remitting any required taxes for transactions that occur using Web Distribution.

Nonetheless, for developers willing to host their apps directly and comply with Apple’s requirements, Web Distribution provides an alternative pathway to reach iPhone users in the EU starting this spring.

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