April 20, 2024

Apple suddenly reveals stern warning about new iPhone update

Apple’s biggest mid-cycle update for the iPhone is about to arrive (here’s exactly when) and it will bring with it big updates for all iPhone users, everywhere, including a huge security update for iMessage. But the biggest changes are for iPhone users in the EU, in response to the Digital Markets Act. Today, Apple explained to me what those changes mean and how they could affect all users, especially if the US or UK governments decide to follow suit with their own legislation.

March 3 update below. This post was first published on March 1, 2024.

The changes for EU iPhone users are complete. Apple is required to open up its iOS system to allow downloading of apps in alternative markets, to allow web browsers not based on the WebKit that underpins Safari, and to allow other payment mechanisms beyond Apple Pay on the phone.

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Apple has published a 32-page white paper and explains that while it has taken every possible precaution to maintain the privacy and security of iPhone users, it cannot guarantee that things will be as secure as before.

Apple explained to me that it has introduced new features to protect users, but that it will not be able to protect users as it does with the current provision. The whitepaper says: “To comply with the DMA, we have created new options for developers and users, and we have created more than 600 new APIs and developer tools to enable these changes. New options include enabling downloading so EU users can download apps through app marketplaces other than the App Store, allowing alternative ways to process payments in the App Store, and many other changes. This forced us to change the exceptionally successful approach we have employed to protect the security and privacy of users and keep them safe.”

Some organizations, like banks, for example, have contacted Apple expressing concern, saying they want to remain App Store-only and might even consider not allowing their apps to be downloaded to any devices that have apps downloaded. . Right now, Apple has no way to tell a bank, for example, whether an iPhone has downloaded an app from a third-party marketplace or not.

Apple is wary of how predatory payment techniques, mobile ransomware and consumer spyware could target the iPhone if it is deemed more vulnerable or less secure.

For me, the key phrase from the whitepaper is this: “In practice, EU users will lose the option to remain App Store-only and retain all of Apple’s industry-leading protections, even if that is what that they would prefer.” .”

Of course, users can simply decide to stick exclusively with the App Store, with web browsers like Safari based on WebKit and with payments through Apple Pay.

And some people will want to have apps on their phones that aren’t in the App Store. Apple is also concerned about this and states that it will not have control over external content: “This means that Apple will not be able to prevent applications with content that Apple would not allow in the App Store, such as applications that distribute pornography, applications that encourage tobacco use or vaping products, illegal drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol, or apps that contain pirated content (or otherwise steal ideas or intellectual property from other developers), become available on alternative app marketplaces.”

Spotify has already responded to the white paper, saying Apple is trying to “scare everyone about privacy and security.”

The changes coming to the iPhone are just a few days away, but it may take a few weeks or more to see what the effects are.

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March 2 update. There has already been a very strong response to Apple’s DMA changes and it’s fair to say that they aren’t exactly positive. (This is an example of the British art of understatement). Avery Gardiner, global head of competition policy at Spotify, spoke to the Press Association news agency, as reported by Martyn Landi in The independent. Gardiner said Apple’s warnings about having to make the iPhone less secure to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) amounted to saying that “the only way to have privacy and security is to allow a monopolist to continue abusing power.” monopolistic”.

Gardiner, Spotify’s head of competition policy, went on to say that the idea that security and privacy could only come from Apple’s App Store was “simply not true.”

“If Apple were the only way to keep things private and secure, why haven’t Android users abandoned Android en masse for Apple over privacy and security concerns? They haven’t,” he told the PA news agency.

I think that’s true, but it’s also likely that a good portion of iPhone users remain loyal to Apple precisely because they enjoy impeccably good security and privacy on board.

Gardiner didn’t mince words, saying: “This has been their tactic globally: to scare everyone about privacy and security. Tell them that the only way to have privacy and security is to allow a monopolist to continue abusing monopoly power. “I understand why they do it, but it’s not true.”

He continued: “Apple has announced a set of proposed rules that do not comply with the DMA. “At the most basic level, the idea that one has to opt for an onerous new fee structure in order to take advantage of the rights granted to them by the European Parliament is strange. The DMA is very clear: app stores must allow developers to communicate offers for free. Those are the words. He doesn’t say “as long as you opt for an onerous new fee structure that would impose a huge tax on you.”

Finally, he said: “At first glance, it does not comply with the DMA, and the commission will need to open an investigation unless Apple changes its mind.”


March 3 update. Industry heavyweight Mark Gurman of Bloomberg has added to the hype that the iPhone is about to change forever with the introduction of iOS 17.4.

in his last Ignition bulletin, Gurman talked about the changes coming for iPhone users in the EU in the coming days. Since the changes are specific to the EU, it seems the expectation is that customers elsewhere will want them.

I suspect that many iPhone users, perhaps most, are happy with the way things are and value the security and privacy of the Apple system more than the ability to get additional apps or different web browsers, but who knows?

According to Gurman, Apple is prepared to receive inquiries. He says: “Apple is just days away from releasing iOS 17.4, bringing a wave of changes to the European Union. This includes the ability to download apps outside of Apple’s App Store (a process known as sideloading), as well as third-party app marketplaces and new web browser engines. Third-party developers will also have access to the iPhone’s payment chip. The changes come in response to the EU Digital Markets Law, which will come into force on March 7. (If you’re in the US, UK, Australia or anywhere else outside of the 27 countries that make up the EU, you’re out of luck.)

I think the US, UK and Australian governments are likely to be among those watching closely to see if the new system introduced by the DMA is something they should adopt as well.

I also think they will bide their time to see exactly how the chips fall in Europe before committing, looking at how secure the new system remains after the changes are introduced.

Gurman says, “Apple knows that customers elsewhere will want these features.” That’s surely true, although I’d say whether these customers will be anywhere near the majority of iPhone users is a moot point.

He continues: “So they are already telling AppleCare support employees to prepare for questions about this. They have told customer service representatives not to speculate about when or if that will happen. If you’re a long-time Power Onreader user, you already know the answer: it will never happen unless Apple is forced to do it. Time and time again, Apple has said that its reluctance to adopt side loading is because it does not want to undermine the security of its platform. That might be true, but the bigger concern may be that it undermines App Store revenue.”

I have no doubt that security is a top priority for Apple, but it’s true that there are revenue concerns at play here as well.

It’s worth adding that other companies are skeptical of Apple’s stance. You’ve already seen what Spotify’s global director of competition policy has said, and in recent daysan open letter has been submitted to the European Commission by 34 companies, including Spotify, Deezer, Epic Games and others.

The letter says: “Apple’s new terms not only ignore both the spirit and the letter of the law, but, if left unchanged, make a mockery of the DMA and the considerable efforts of the European Commission and EU institutions. EU to make digital markets competitive. “There are a lot of elements in Apple’s ad that do not comply with the DMA.”

He also describes some of the terms as “egregious,” saying that “Apple is offering app developers an unworkable choice between staying on its current terms (which are manifestly non-compliant with the DMA) or opting for new terms, which means “Only application developers who opt in to the new terms will benefit from the DMA.”

He also criticizes the Core Technology Fee, which Apple will impose on developers to cover the costs of providing services and technology. He says: “With a hefty transaction fee and core technology fee (CTF), few app developers will agree to these unfair terms. These fees will deter app developers from offering seamless in-app experiences to consumers and hinder fair competition with potential alternative payment providers.

“Apple states that ‘the changes include new controls and disclosures, and expanded protections to reduce the privacy and security risks created by the DMA.’ “This masks unfounded concerns about privacy and security to the detriment of user choice.”

Strong opinions are expressed there. It’s safe to say that this controversy will continue.

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