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The European Union has amended the Digital Markets Act to include new provisions that would require Apple to make iMessage accessible. The Act, which was approved by the European Council in July 2022, contains a range of restrictions to prevent major tech firms like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google from engaging in anticompetitive activities. It is set to come into force on May 2, 2023.
One of the key provisions of the Digital Markets Act is a requirement for Apple to allow iPhone users to download apps from outside of the App Store. The EU is also seeking to compel Apple to allow third-party iOS browsers to use their own rendering engines, rather than requiring developers to use its WebKit engine from Safari.
However, the most significant change is the requirement for iMessage to be made accessible to users of other messaging apps. This means that the most extensive messaging services, such as iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, allowing users to exchange messages, send files, or make video calls across messaging apps.
Currently, iMessage only works on Apple devices, which has been a significant selling point for the iPhone, particularly among young people in the US. However, this exclusivity has also been a source of frustration for those who use other messaging apps, as they are unable to communicate with iMessage users.
Apple has avoided bringing iMessage to Android, in part because of the exclusivity factor, which has helped to differentiate the iPhone from other smartphones on the market.
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However, with the new regulations coming into force in the EU, it seems likely that Apple will have to make iMessage accessible to users of other messaging apps, at least in Europe.
The changes may not be limited to Europe, either. Other countries often follow suit with similar legislation, and it may be easier for companies to apply the changes worldwide. Ultimately, this could mean that iMessage becomes a more widely used messaging service, accessible to users of different platforms around the world.