Apple Could Be Forced to Let iPhone Users Uninstall Photos App in Europe: Report

Apr3,2024


Apple has reportedly found itself in trouble with the European Union (EU) again. Earlier this year, the EU implemented the Digital Markets Act (DMA) with a deadline of March 6. Among several user-centric policies, the Act also required consumer tech companies to focus on interoperability and offer an open ecosystem where users have the option to choose a particular app as the default across any device. . While Apple added support for alternative app marketplaces and allowed third-party browsers to run its engine to comply with the Act, the EU believes the Photos app is still infringing.

On March 25, the European Commission (EC) launched a non-compliance investigation against Apple, Google and Meta. For Apple, three reasons were listed in the press release, stating, “The Commission sought to (i) enable end users to easily uninstall any software application on iOS, (ii) easily replace Has initiated proceedings against Apple regarding measures to comply with the obligations. default settings on iOS and (iii) prompt users with a preferences screen that effectively and easily allows them to select an alternative default service, such as the browser or search engine on their iPhone.

According to a report by John Gruber of Daring Fireball, one of the reasons mentioned above refers to the Photos app. Gruber highlighted this with comments from Margrethe Vestager, the EC's executive vice-president. He added, “Apple also failed to make many apps un-installable (one of them would be Photos) and prevent end users from changing their default state (e.g. cloud) as required by the DMA.”

Allowing users to delete the Photos app may be difficult for the iPhone maker. As Gruber pointed out in the report, Apple's system apps are deeply integrated into the operating system. For example, the Photos app is not just an app for viewing photos in the gallery, but also serves the purpose of providing different levels of access to third-party apps to increase security. The Photos app is also integrated with iCloud and allows users to share selected albums or the entire gallery with other users. Apple may need to re-engineer the entire iOS to make the Photos app uninstallable and allow third-party gallery apps similar access.

With the non-compliance case now opened, the Election Commission intends to conclude the proceedings within 12 months. Apple will now have to undergo an investigation where if the regulators do not provide reasonable cause for not uninstalling the app, Apple may have to pay a fine of up to 20 percent of its total worldwide revenue. The EC highlights that in cases of systematic violations, it can force the gatekeeper (consumer technology company) to sell the business or parts of it, or ban it from receiving additional services related to non-compliance Is.


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