Apple will allow customers in the European Union to download apps without using its App Store.

The company announced the plans as a result of being forced to comply with a new EU law, the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will also require Apple to give EU users a choice on which browser to set as their default and select payment methods other than Apple Pay. 

Starting from March, developers will be able to offer alternative app stores on iPhones and opt out of using Apple's in-app payment system. 

The expanded features will be made available to European Union Apple users as part of the next update to its iOS operating system, version 17.4. 

Apple made it clear that it was displeased with the changes, saying the DMA would add to privacy and security risks for EU users.

"The new options for processing payments and downloading apps on iOS open new avenues for malware, fraud and scams, illicit and harmful content, and other privacy and security threats," it said. 

While Apple has been forced to open up its ecosystem to rivals, it also intends to discourage developers from using that option. 

Large-scale developers who opt to make their apps available in alternative app stores will need to pay a flat fee of €0.50 for every installation, including those done through Apple's official App Store. 

That flat fee will not apply to apps which are downloaded less than 1 million times. Apple said that meant less than 1 per cent of developers would be impacted by the change. 

Epic Games, which has been locked in a courtroom battle with Apple in the US over similar issues, slammed Apple's changes as "a devious new instance of malicious compliance". 

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