EU plans to force Apple to give developers access to all iPhone hardware and software features

According to an agreement approved by the European Union, the EU is advancing legislation to strictly regulate companies such as Apple, develop plans to force "gatekeepers" to open up access to hardware and software, and even Create internal departments to meet the new rules.

European Union governments reached an interim deal on the Digital Markets Act (DMA) earlier this week, with 43 votes in favor, 1 against, and 1 abstention, showing a broad consensus among European lawmakers to actively regulate big tech companies. Due to the size of their annual turnover in the EU, owning and operating a platform with a large number of active users, and its "entrenchment and longevity", the length of time it takes to meet these criteria will be subject to the rules laid out in the DMA.

DMA could force Apple to make major changes to the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, third-party browsers, and Siri in Europe. For example, it might force users to install third-party app stores and sideload apps, enable developers to closely interoperate with Apple's own services, promote their products outside the App Store, use third-party payment systems, and Access data collected by Apple.

One of the latest additions to DMA is the requirement that messaging, voice calling, and video calling services are interoperable. Interoperability rules theoretically mean that Meta apps like WhatsApp or Messenger could request to interoperate with Apple's iMessage framework, and Apple would be forced to comply.

The latest interim agreement lays out plans to create a "high-level group" of digital regulators in China and Europe to coordinate national regulators in EU member states, and requires "gatekeepers" to create an independent "compliance function". The new team must include a compliance officer to monitor his company's compliance with EU legislation using sufficient powers, resources, and management authority, and be led by an "independent senior manager with clear responsibility for the compliance function". The rule would effectively require companies like Apple to create an internal division dedicated to meeting pro-competitive regulations.

In addition, the new rules are specifically aimed at companies with a "dual role" like Apple, which controls both hardware and software, and appear to allow any developer to access any existing hardware features, such as "NFC near field communication technology, secure elements and processors, authentication mechanisms, and the software used to control those technologies.” This could have a significant impact on the level of integration developers achieve on Apple platforms, such as allowing contactless payment services like Apple Pay on the iPhone and Apple Watch run on.

EU lawmakers provisionally approved the DMA in March. Next, the proposals will go to a final vote in the European Parliament in July, before being formally adopted by the European Council and published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The DMA will go into effect 20 days after publication, and affected companies will have six months to comply.

Outside of the EU, Apple's ecosystem is increasingly under scrutiny by governments around the world, including the US, UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and other countries and regions, and global regulators have made clear their willingness to explore requirements around these countries Application sideloading and interoperability.

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