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Snippet: EU Provisionally Agrees on Law That Would Force Apple to Allow Alternative App Stores, Sideloading, and iMessage Interoperability ☇

Shared on March 25, 2022

Tim Hardwick for MacRumors:

The European Council and European Parliament said on Friday they had reached a political agreement on the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will target many of the services offered by tech giants and force them to open up to other businesses.

Today’s announcement focuses on services like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and iMessage, which will have to “open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request,” according to the EU. “Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice.”

The argument of “choice” always gets on my nerves, as it is a go-to for politicians and seems that people are too dumb to think for themselves. Currently, one can download and use the various messaging apps. The only one that is missing from the equation is iMessage on Android, and it seems more iPhone users want their Android friends on iMessage than Android users looking to jump in (other than maybe the argument of kids being left out—and they’d probably move onto some other means of exclusion and status).

We already have universal messaging services, SMS and MMS. Just because Europe decided on WhatsApp doesn’t mean that there aren’t already universal services. iMessage is unique in that it’s a layer on top of those and if you have friends with Android, BlackBerries, a RAZR V3, or whatever else, SMS and MMS work just fine. Personally, I’d like to see more pressure on Apple incorporating RCS (even with all of its flaws) as a fallback just so that messaging my Android friends can be a little nicer. Furthermore, there appears to be no consideration of the challenges of encryption, identity, or how various messaging apps work in entirely different ways from a function standpoint.

Under the proposed DMA, Apple would also be forced to open up its App Store to third-party payment options instead of users having to go through Apple’s own payment system – something it fought hard against in the Apple vs. Epic Games trial.

I’m not against the idea of Apple allowing the option of sideloading on iOS, but I feel like the proposed heavy-handed regulation from the EU and others feels the need to turn iOS into Android, rather than recognizing the differences. I’m of the mindset that allowing sideloading for geeky purposes probably won’t hurt anything (look at the Mac), but as someone who enjoys the current iOS experience, I worry that some apps will go sideload-only or require me to have a relationship with their developer specifically. Other than a few exceptions, I really don’t.

The other part that this heavy-handed regulation seems to ignore is how much of the retail space currently works. I was in Target the other day, picked up some groceries, and it struck me how selling Good & Gather (Target’s house brand for food) alongside national brands is just fine. I have choices, but there’s plenty of promotions and sales that tend to push their own products. Along with that, simply walking into Target, I’m already inclined to lean towards their in-house products because I chose to go there instead of Walmart or Kroger. How is someone getting an iPhone and having Apple’s apps and services be the easier option any different? Just as someone may choose Tide over Up & Up detergent, someone can already download Spotify instead using Apple Music.

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