Apple Warns Eligibility for Alternative App Marketplaces Could Be Revoked If User Travels Outside EU

Apple added support for alternative app marketplaces on iPhone devices with the iOS 17.4 update, after much anticipation. However, it has now released a support document explaining the nuances around the eligibility of the feature. Surprisingly, the Cupertino-based tech giant said that it might stop access to marketplaces if a user travels outside of the countries and regions belonging to the European Union (EU) for a long period of time. The pre-installed apps will also not be updated for as long as the user has not returned to the EU.

EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) came into force on March 6, and as per the guidelines, Apple now allows users to download third-party marketplaces on iPhone and install apps through them. These apps will not have to pay any listing fee or use the tech giant’s payment processing system and pay an additional charge on that. However, it has also published a long post highlighting the eligibility criteria for users to avail of this feature, and factors that can lead to it not working.

As per the guidelines issued by the iPhone maker, the country or region of a user’s Apple ID must be set to one of the countries or regions of the EU. Additionally, the user must also be physically located in the region. The company will monitor that both criteria are fulfilled via on-device processing and claims it will not collect the device’s location. In case a user leaves the EU for a long period, they will lose access to some of the features including the ability to install new alternative marketplaces and updating the pre-installed third-party apps. However, the apps will continue to function. The tech giant also added that it will give a grace period for users who travel outside Europe for a short duration, although it did not define what constitutes short-term and long-term travel.

The post also underlined the list of countries and regions eligible for alternative app marketplaces. These are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Further, Apple has also stated that it will not provide customer support in case users face issues with alternative app marketplaces. Issues around privacy and security including scams, fraud and abuse will also not be addressed by the company. Notably, no third-party app marketplaces are available for iOS at the time of writing this.

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