Alternative iOS App Stores don't work properly outside EU: Apple warns

First alternative app store is set to be launched in EU this week
An undated image showing a man holding iPhone. — Pexels
An undated image showing a man holding iPhone. — Pexels

Access to the independent, third-party app marketplaces for iPhone users have been granted with the release of the top-of-the-line iOS update, iOS 17.4, in the European Union (EU).

However, the iPhone maker has warned that iPhone users travelling outside the EU bloc's premises will only be spared a "grace period" after which the functionality of the alternative app stores on iPhone will be hindered.

Meanwhile, the company has not talked in great detail on what it means by the term "grace period".

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The move to ensure the availability of independently run app stores on iPhones is in line with the new rules under the Digital Markets Act (DMA) umbrella. The potential implementation of the DMA in EU will be observed on March 7.

Additionally, another reason behind letting iPhone users in the EU to set any app marketplace of their choice is that a considerable portion of iPhone users in the EU was concerned regarding the the potential privacy, safety, and security risks associated with the limited app marketplaces.

Extending some parental controls feature, the iOS 17.4 also offers a Screen Time setting to let parents decide if their children's devices should be able to install apps from alternative app marketplaces.

How to access alternative app marketplaces on iPhone 

In order to access different app stores, a user's Apple ID must be set to a country or region within the EU, and the user must be physically located within the EU. Apple states that device eligibility for accessing alternative app stores is determined through on-device processing, with only an indication of eligibility being sent to Apple. To protect user privacy, the company does not gather device locations.

First alternative app store launch in EU

The first alternative app store will be launched in the EU this week. German IT service provider Mobivention will introduce its corporate-focused Mobivention App Marketplace on Thursday. MacPaw has also announced that it will introduce an alternative app store sometime in April, and Epic Games also has plans to launch one.