Apple Reveals It’s Bringing Another Exclusive Feature To EU Users In The Future

In addition to alternative app stores, EU users will eventually be able to set default navigation apps.

TL;DR: Upcoming iOS features for EU iPhone users

  • Alternative app stores: With iOS 17.4 Apple now allows some users to download third-party marketplaces. 🏬
  • Third-party marketplace: Users can then download apps from these stores instead of the Apple App Store. 🍎
  • EU only: However, these third-party app stores are only available to users in the EU. 🇪🇺
  • Upcoming: Apple is also working on a way for EU users to set a default navigation app. 📍

Earlier this week, Apple released an update to the iPhone’s operating system, iOS. The new update is version number iOS 17.4 and for most users, it’s a relatively minor update. However, for users in the EU, it’s one of the most significant updates in the iPhone’s history.

If you live in the EU, iOS 17.4 adds the ability for you to download alternative marketplaces to your iPhone. “Alternative marketplace” is another way of saying “third-party app store.” This means for the first time ever, iPhone users in the EU can choose to download iPhone apps outside of the iPhone’s official App Store.

This wasn’t a change Apple wanted to make, but its hand was forced by the new Digital Markets Act, which went into effect in the EU this week. That act designated certain tech companies as gatekeepers and forced them to open up elements in their platform more than they had in the past.

But now we’ve learned that Apple is gearing up to give additional features to EU users in the future thanks to a March 7 report the company released called “Apple’s Non-Confidential Summary of DMA Compliance Report.” 

A single line in the report reveals that Apple will eventually let EU users choose their default navigation app on iPhone. As the report states, “Apple also plans to introduce a new default control for users in Settings for navigation apps.” Apple says this solution will likely be available to EU users in March 2025, which suggests it will be an update to iOS 18, which Apple is expected to release this fall.

Apple doesn’t go on to describe what, exactly, this feature will entail, but its description suggests the company will allow iPhone user in the EU to set apps other than Apple Maps as their default navigation app.

What this likely means is that a user can choose which app will open when they tap on an address link in a webpage. For example, if a user is visiting a restaurant’s website and taps their address link, but default that address now opens in Apple Maps.

But with the changes Apple is bringing next year, iPhone EU users will presumably be able to set third-party navigation apps, such as Google Maps, as their default navigation app. In this example, when a user taps an address link, Google Maps would open instead of Apple Maps.

Apple Also Clarifies Alternative App Store Limitations

Besides revealing the above navigation changes, Apple also clarified information when it comes to using third-party app stores outside of the EU. Apple now says that EU users will be able to continue to use third-party app stores, to a limited degree, if they go outside of the EU’s geographic area – but only for 30 days.

As Apple notes in a support document:

“If you leave the European Union, you can continue to open and use apps that you previously installed from alternative app marketplaces. Alternative app marketplaces can continue updating those apps for up to 30 days after you leave the European Union, and you can continue using alternative app marketplaces to manage previously installed apps. However, you must be in the European Union to install alternative app marketplaces and new apps from alternative app marketplaces.”


iOS 17.4 is now a free download for all iPhone users worldwide, but as noted above, alternative app stores are limited to EU users.

Michael Grothaus

Michael Grothaus is an American author and journalist with a flair for exploring the intersection of technology, creativity, and digital culture. With a background in film, journalism, and creative writing, he brings a unique perspective to the world of mobile technology. His work has been featured in renowned publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, and Engadget. At KnowYourMobile, Michael leverages his extensive knowledge to guide readers through the complexities of mobile devices, helping them make informed choices in the fast-paced tech landscape.

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