For the first time, Apple may start allowing iOS users to choose which apps their device uses by default. According to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, the company is considering letting users switch from Apple’s default apps to those of its rivals.
At this stage, the Apple is only discussing the idea, according to “people familiar with the matter.” However, it would be a significant step change for Apple, which has made 38 of its own apps including Safari, Mail, Messages and Maps.
However, faced with ongoing legal challenges, Apple has started to relax its previously unwavering rules slightly in recent times. In October last year, Apple finally allowed Siri to play tracks on Spotify presumably in a bid to address one of Spotify’s key complaints in its EU antitrust complaint against Apple. According to Gurman, Apple is also considering loosening restrictions on third-party music apps on HomePods.
On one hand, the decision to relax rules around third party apps will help Apple get ahead of any future antitrust challenges it might face and there are certainly no end of rivals that believe its existing approach is anticompetitive. On the other, opening up its products to third party apps in a way that improves their usability will only make them more attractive to consumers. This is something Android has done since forever, and it’s this freedom of choice that Android users so frequently tout as the reason for their loyalty to the operating system.