Apple to Support Direct App Downloads From Websites, but There’s a Catch

Apple on Tuesday announced that it was adding support for Web Distribution will roll out in the coming weeks, allowing developers to distribute apps directly from their websites, without the need for installing third party app stores. These apps can also support system integration along with backup and restore functionality. The iPhone maker also revealed that it was making changes to its policies related to support for alternative app stores in the EU, making it easier for developers to exclusively offer their own apps via a dedicated app marketplace.

According to details shared by Apple on its developer website, an upcoming software update will add support for Web Distribution in the EU. Authorised developers will soon be able to distribute apps to users directly from their websites. These developers will also have access to iOS application programming interfaces (APIs) in order to support backup and restore functions, system integration, and app distribution via the web — without a third-party app store.

Developers who want to distribute their apps directly from their websites will need to be enrolled as an organisation (or have a subsidiary legal entity) that is “incorporated, domiciled, and or registered in the EU,” according to Apple’s support page for Web Distribution. They will also need to be part of the Apple Developer Program for at least two consecutive years, while one of their apps will need to have had over one million annual app downloads in the EU.

Apple has also put some restrictions in place, including requiring apps to be notarised, and asking developers to agree to only distribute apps from their developer account. Developers will also need to ensure that they respond to the company’s communications, publish data collection policies and offer privacy controls. They will also need to comply with the EU’s Digital Services Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) while complying with government requests to take down apps.

Developers who opt for web distribution will also have to pay Apple a Core Technology Fee (CTF) of EUR 0.50 (roughly Rs. 45) for every annual app install over one million, according to the company. Accredited educational institutions, government entities and non-profit organisations will be exempted from the annual Apple Developer Program membership fee and the CTF.

Apple also announced that developers who want to offer alternative app marketplaces in the EU will finally be able limit these stores to their own apps — a departure from the company’s original policy that stated that other developers should also be allowed to offer their apps on third party app stores. This means that developers can now offer dedicated app stores with their own applications in the EU.

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