iOS 17.4 brings sweeping changes including revamped App Store policies and NFC access

Apple has rolled out the highly-anticipated iOS 17.4 update, featuring significant changes tailored specifically for users in Europe. While the update includes some global enhancements, the focal point remains on complying with the Digital Markets Act and introducing alterations exclusive to the European Union.

EU Changes

In adherence to the Digital Markets Act, Apple is revamping the App Store landscape in the European Union (EU). Developers within the EU can now opt for alternative app stores or distribute their apps through alternate channels, thus introducing a new fee structure. Under this system, developers are charged a standard fee of 0.50 euros per user per year, with the first million installs being free. Apps from alternate stores incur no commission, while those from the App Store witness a reduced commission rate of 17 percent, reported MacRumors.

Users in the EU gain the liberty to designate their preferred alternative app store as the default, offering newfound flexibility in app acquisition. Moreover, enhanced security measures are integrated, such as pop-up warnings for malware-infected apps sourced from alternative stores.

Alternative Payment Options

Apple has liberalized payment methods within apps, allowing developers to employ alternative payment systems without mandating in-app purchases. Consequently, developers leveraging alternative payment solutions will receive a three percent reduction in App Store fees. Furthermore, apps distributed through alternative platforms and utilizing alternative payment mechanisms incur no charges beyond the fixed 0.50 euro fee per user.

Third-Party Browser Updates

In response to user demand, EU users will now have the freedom to choose their default browser from a selection of popular options upon launching Safari. Additionally, alternative browser engines are permitted, ensuring greater diversity in browser choices.

NFC Access (EEA)

The iOS 17.4 update extends NFC access to third-party payment apps and banks within the European Economic Area (EEA). This facilitates direct contactless payments via iPhone, independent of Apple Pay or the Wallet app.

Web Apps (EU)

Apple’s initial limitations on Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) within the EU have been reversed following user feedback. Home Screen Web Apps are now operational, albeit requiring WebKit support for functionality.

Gaming App Changes (Worldwide)

Gaming app policies have been relaxed worldwide, enabling streaming game services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce NOW to be offered as standalone apps. Moreover, mini games, chatbots, and plugins can now utilize in-app purchases.

New Emoji

iOS 17.4 introduces an array of new emoji characters, including lime, a phoenix, and various people and body emojis, enhancing expression and communication options for users.

Messaging with Siri

The Messaging with Siri feature undergoes an overhaul, offering language-specific options for reading incoming messages, enriching user interactions.

Podcasts and Music

Enhancements in the Podcasts and Music apps streamline navigation and functionality, with new features like transcripts and real-time music recognition enriching the user experience.

These updates collectively enhance the iOS ecosystem, offering users in Europe and beyond a more dynamic and personalized experience. However, it also reflects Apple’s commitment to regulatory compliance and user satisfaction on a global scale.

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