It's not just App Stores… Apple make big changes for cloud gaming and webkit too

While the introduction of Apple's new Core Technology Fee has grabbed headlines, DMA compliancy has opened the door for web devs and game streaming

It's not just App Stores… Apple make big changes for cloud gaming and webkit too

While peering your way through the small print of Apple's new fee and approval changesto (they say) comply with the European Digital Markets Act legislation coming into effect in March, it's easy to see the iPhone giant is working very hard to give away precisely nothing.

However, in other regards - where Apple's pernickety nature and iron-fist rule have prevented progress - it seems that the DMA is having more tangible outcome.

One exciting (almost by-product) result of the DMA ruling is that alternative browser engines other than Apple’s own WebKit will legally be permitted on iOS devices for the first time. WebKit underpins iOS’s Safari of course but also - by Apple law - lies behind the iOS versions of Firefox and Chrome too, meaning that many of their more far reaching powers weren’t possible.

Now users will be able to enjoy the full versions of Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera and more with those apps finally free to reach deeper within your device to offer the same level of control, features and reach that they do on Android devices.

While Apple have always sold the Webkit restriction as an attempt to keep iOS secure, the move has been seen as an attempt to 'hobble' competitors to it's own Safari browser. Those restrictions are now eliminated with Apple waving through the changes.

Streaming that makes sense

More visibly Apple will finally be allowing game streaming apps, meaning that services such as Xbox Cloud Streaming and Nvidia’s GeForce now can now exist as apps in the conventional sense rather than simply being ‘on iOS’ through the use of a web browser.

“Developers can now submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog,” Apple wrote in a post and - most interestingly - these changes apply “worldwide”.

It appears that rather than split the world in two as it is being forced to for the two version of iOS it will now have to press into service, Apple are simply relaxing their rules in a move that both appeases the DMA ruling in Europe and makes common sense for gamers everywhere.

The change allows one app to offer a large catalog of games which is a big change from the ‘each game is it’s own entity’ rules that thwarted the provision of a single service offering multiple games previously.

It’s a major change of tune that - after arguing that apps that ‘contained further games’ were basically dodging their checks and restrictions - finally treats cloud gaming services in the same manner that Apple already treats video services such as Netflix and Disney+. They’re all just containers of content.

Oh… One more thing…

There are of course some rules to obey… Apple have said that “each experience made available in an app on the App Store will be required to adhere to all App Store Review Guidelines and its host app will need to maintain an age rating of the highest age-rated content included in the app," but this feels more like a sensible formality rather than any kind of power grab.

Apple says that developers will “be able to provide enhanced discovery opportunities for streaming games, mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins that are found within their apps,” and that all will “be able to incorporate Apple’s In-App Purchase system to offer their users paid digital content or services for the first time, such as a subscription for an individual chatbot.”

While the debate/bunfight regarding Apple's DMA-appeasing change of fees will continue to rumble, the two aspects above seem squeaky clean by comparison.

The repercussions of both moves open the door for game streaming services dramatically and the real battle for who will dominate cloud gaming in the future just took a big step up.


Editor -

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.