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February 8, 2024

Alternative App Marketplaces in the EU with iOS 17.4

Alternative App Marketplaces in the EU with iOS 17.4
The technological landscape in the European Union is undergoing a monumental shift with the release of iOS 17.4 SDK, presenting a host of unprecedented capabilities for developers venturing into the realm of sideloading and alternative app stores.

The timely introduction of app sideloading in iOS.

This change comes as a response to legislative pressures from the EU, particularly the Digital Markets Act, which demands more openness and competition in app distribution. The legislation requires Apple to offer alternatives to its closed ecosystem dominated by the App Store. Sideloading, the ability to install apps from sources outside the official App Store, is a key aspect of this shift. It allows users to access third-party app marketplaces, providing more choices and flexibility in app acquisition.

Sideloading Apps is currently limited, requiring the use of alternative app stores that adhere to Apple’s stringent requirements. The App Store monopoly has been partially broken, allowing alternative stores alongside the default App Store. The App Review Process persists for apps in alternative stores, ensuring compliance with Apple’s guidelines. While sideloading may increase security risks, it expands user choice within the EU, although global availability remains uncertain pending Apple’s decisions.

Iphone apps

Expanding on the Technological Leaps of iOS 17.4 SDK

The new iOS 17.4 SDK marks a pivotal moment for developers, starting in a new era of technical possibilities tailored specifically for marketplace developers.

Marketplace App Installation and Support: Elevating User Experience

iOS 17.4 SDK enables developers to build apps that install and support diverse software directly from websites, revolutionizing user interaction with applications.

Cross-App Data Access: Revolutionizing Collaboration

The SDK introduces Cross-App Data Access for marketplace apps, allowing them to seamlessly manage data across multiple apps. This fosters enhanced integration and functionality, enabling developers to create interconnected app ecosystems that promote collaboration and innovation.

User Purchase and Subscription Management: Centralizing Transactions

iOS 17.4 SDK introduces powerful tools for managing user purchases and subscriptions within app marketplaces. This centralized approach to transactional activities simplifies the user experience, offering a unified platform for financial interactions. By consolidating these processes, developers can more effectively engage with users and enhance revenue opportunities.

Notarization Requirements Compliance: A Pillar of Security

Apple’s dedication to security is evident in its rigorous Notarization Compliance requirements, which apply to all apps, including those distributed via alternative marketplaces. This commitment ensures a secure app ecosystem, protecting users from potential threats. By prioritizing compliance, Apple demonstrates its unwavering commitment to maintaining high levels of security across all app platforms.

Advanced Technical Considerations

Building an alternative app marketplace within the dynamic realm of iOS 17.4 SDK demands a comprehensive understanding of advanced technical considerations.

Security and Notarization: Fortifying App Integrity

Delving into the core of security and notarization is essential for ensuring the integrity of apps hosted on alternatives marketplaces. A meticulous examination of Apple’s notarization requirements becomes imperative, necessitating a deep dive into the technical aspects of securing apps against vulnerabilities and unauthorized access. It is not only to fortify the marketplace against potential threats but also provides confidence in users regarding the safety of their interactions.

Data Management and Privacy: Regulatory Compliance

Developing an app store demands stringent data management and privacy measures. Compliance with regulations like GDPR while ensuring transparent data policies fosters user trust.

Financial and Operational Technicalities: Aligning Technology with Strategy

Navigating the financial nuances of an alternative app store requires a blend of technology integration and strategic foresight. Understanding fees like the stand-by letter of credit is vital, ensuring seamless integration into systems and informed operational decisions for a sustainable marketplace.

Supporting Developers and Users: A Simplified Technical View

Supporting developers and users involves simplifying the technical process. While sideloading on iOS is still uncertain, a similar experience is seen with TestFlight for installing development builds. With iOS 17.4 SDK, prioritizing user and developer convenience is essential.

Developer Tools and APIs: Helping Developers Innovate

Give developers easy-to-use tools and APIs that smoothly work with their apps. The aim is to make their job simpler, allowing them to make the most out of your marketplace. Features like automatic app updates make it easy for developers to improve their apps, and efficient data synchronization tools help apps work together seamlessly.

User Experience and Support Systems: Making Users Happy

Establish efficient user support systems and feedback mechanisms to improve the marketplace continually. Implement fair dispute resolution processes to build trust among users and developers. Simplify processes and promote efficiency to create a thriving ecosystem for developers and users alike.


iOs 17.4

Distributing your app on an alternative app marketplace

To publish your app on a different app marketplace, you’ll need to go over and agree to the Alternative EU Terms Addendum to the Developer Program License Agreement.

By mid-February 2024, App Store Connect will provide assistance for marketplaces, including features necessary for testing app installation. It’s essential to utilize MarketplaceKit alongside Xcode 15.3 for the development and testing of your app meant for alternative marketplaces. Applications distributed from such marketplaces must be compatible with iPhones since they do not support apps exclusively designed for iPads. While it’s not mandatory for marketplace-hosted apps to use MarketplaceKit, if your app utilizes MarketplaceKit methods, ensure it’s deployed to iOS 17.4 or later; otherwise, you can develop your app with Xcode 14.1 and deploy it to any iOS version compatible with Xcode 14.1.

Tailor your codebase based on the installation source.

If your application is available both on the Apple App Store and alternative app marketplaces, you have the flexibility to customize your codebase dynamically at runtime. This allows you to implement distinct functionalities based on where the user installed your app. Utilize the static current property of the MarketplaceKit app distributor to identify the source of installation:

App Distributor Installation Source
AppDistributor.appStore Denotes the app installed from the official App Store.
AppDistributor.testFlight Represents installations originating from TestFlight.
AppDistributor.marketplace Indicates apps installed from alternative app marketplaces.
AppDistributor.other Refers to apps installed through enterprise or educational developer programs.

Apps distributed through alternative channels must utilize APIs different from those used for App Store apps. Specifically:

  • AdAttributionKit is recommended for handling ads.
  • External purchase should be implemented for e-commerce functionalities.
  • Utilize Game Center in a marketplace-hosted app only if the app is also distributed on the App Store.
apple store

Establish a marketplace relationship and enable notifications

To establish a partnership with an alternative app marketplace, obtain a unique identifier and validate it through App Store Connect. After Notarization, your app can be hosted on the marketplace via an alternative distribution package, which can be submitted manually or sent automatically through notifications to keep the marketplace updated.

Exploring Technological Changes

The launch of iOS 17.4 SDK opens up exciting new options for alternative app markets, marking a big step in how we share and use apps. When developers use these new features along with Applivery’s tools, they can make cool, safe, and easy-to-use markets. This tech upgrade fits right in with what Applivery aims to do, making sharing and managing apps and devices simpler. It’s a chance for developers to get creative and stand out in the app world.

Stay tuned as we continue to explore and discuss the unfolding technical advancements in this exciting new era of app distribution!

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