“Experience an Exclusive App Store in the EU with The AltStore’s Patreon-Powered Selection”

As a result, we’re beginning to see what an app store ecosystem could look like when other developers are allowed to compete with the default iPhone App Store. One notable case in point is the AltStore, an alternative app store that’s preparing to take advantage of the DMA to launch an updated version of its app marketplace in the EU, with plans to support Patreon-backed apps. To comply with the new European law, Apple is introducing APIs and frameworks that allow developers to distribute apps independently of the App Store. “It all works virtually the same as the App Store now,” Testut says. In the screenshots he shared, the AltStore looks much like a modern-day app store, with categories like Games, Lifestyle and Utilities, as well as buttons to download its free apps, as on Apple’s App Store.

According to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple’s control over the App Store ecosystem for iPhone apps is hindering competition. Consequently, the tech giant is now being compelled to open its doors to new challengers. As a result, we are beginning to witness the potential of an app store system with diverse developers allowed to compete alongside the venerable iPhone App Store.

One notable case in point is the AltStore, an alternative app store that’s gearing up to leverage the DMA and launch an updated version of its app marketplace in the EU. The AltStore plans to support apps backed by Patreon.

In order to comply with the EU’s new regulations, Apple is introducing APIs and frameworks that empower developers to distribute their apps independent of the App Store. The AltStore was quick to seize this opportunity, and just last week, developer Riley Testut shared screenshots of the upcoming version of their app store set to debut in the EU.

Instead of merely relying on advertisements, paid downloads, or in-app purchases for monetization, the AltStore will also offer developers the option to use a custom integration with Patreon to directly market their apps to consumers.

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This store, which has previously offered sideloaded apps such as the popular video game emulator Delta, will initially launch in the EU with just two apps, Testut reveals. Delta will be available for free, while the AltStore’s exclusive clipboard manager, Clip, will require a pledge of $1 or more on the crowdfunding platform Patreon. The AltStore plans to add beta versions of both Delta and Clip shortly afterwards, with a monthly Patreon pledge of $3 needed to access them.

This unique monetization model for apps is somewhat similar to Apple’s in-app subscriptions, except without the traditional 15% to 30% commission that the tech giant typically takes. Thanks to Apple’s DMA guidelines, alternative app stores have the option to pay a Core Technology Fee of €0.50 for each first annual install over a threshold of 1 million, giving them access to the revenues generated by larger apps. However, it remains uncertain whether this fee will continue to be enforced, as the EU is currently investigating Apple for potential non-compliance with competition laws.

As Testut explains, the AltStore will eventually allow other developers to distribute their apps through the storefront by establishing their own sources.

“They’ll also be able to utilize the same Patreon integration that we use to distribute ‘paid’ apps,” Testut told TechCrunch. This integration will provide a new business model for apps that would not have been possible without the implementation of the DMA.

“One thing @altstore does that should really get you thinking about alternative payment systems that Apple never would have considered: it has Patreon integration, and can tie access to apps to your Patreon pledge – which gives you an entirely different, personal relationship with your users, and lets you use the same reward system you use for videos, blog posts, merch, etc,” wrote iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith in a post on Mastodon. “Alternative app stores don’t just have to emulate Apple’s model,” he added.

Furthermore, Troughton-Smith pointed out how the AltStore will offer users a detailed view of the entitlements – or additional permissions – that an app requires before installation.

In addition to offering developers a new means of making money, Testus claims that the EU version of the AltStore will be “significantly simpler” to use compared to the current version.

Presently, users who wish to sideload apps via the AltStore without jailbreaking their iPhone using a Mac or PC, have to provide the AltStore with their Apple ID and password, and refresh their apps every seven days. Not only does this process raise security concerns, but it can also be complex. However, the EU version of the AltStore will not require these steps.

“It will function in much the same way as the App Store,” assures Testut.

From the shared screenshots, the AltStore appears modern and organized, with categories such as Games, Lifestyle, and Utilities. Users can download the free apps through the app store, similar to Apple’s App Store. However, the user interface will differ slightly as Apple requires developers to include an additional confirmation screen after the user clicks to install an app. This screen alerts users that updates and purchases will be managed by the AltStore, rather than Apple.

Testut also clarifies that AltStore apps must be notarized by Apple before they can be installed, meaning it will not be possible to install just any sideloaded app available as a .ipa file.

The new AltStore is ready for launch, pending final approval from Apple.

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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