Australian Watchdog Wants iOS Users to Have More Control Over Preinstalled Apps

In an report related to its ongoing investigation into Apple and Google app marketplace dominance, Australia's consumer watchdog has warned both companies that it wants consumers to have more choice when it comes to preinstalled apps on Apple and Android devices (via ZDNet).

appstore
Specifically, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants Apple and Google to give users more control over the default apps in their respective mobile operating systems.

"There is a need for consumers to have more choice through an ability to change any preinstalled default app on their device that is not a core phone feature," the ACC said. "This would provide consumers with more control to choose the app that best meets their needs, and promote more robust competition in downstream markets for apps."

Apple already allows iOS users to choose third-party mail and web browsing apps over its native Mail client and Safari browser, but the ACCC wants to see the same level of choice applied to all pre-installed apps.

One of a number of proposed changes is the introduction of "choice screens" that allow consumers to choose between all first-party apps and third-party alternatives. The proposal is reminiscent of the prompt that iOS users in Russia see when first configuring a device to pre-install apps from a list of government-approved software.

Other proposals include the ability for developers to inform users of alternative payment options, and a means of preventing Apple and Google from using information collected about third-party apps to advantage their own competing apps. The watchdog warned the tech giants that regulation could be required if the concerns are not addressed.

The comments in the 165-page interim report are consistent with previous remarks made by the commission, which believes that Apple and Google hold a dominant position as app distributors which could be exploited by preferencing their own apps and payment platforms over third-party alternatives.

The report notes that outside of China, Android OS and Apple's iOS account for close to 100% of the market for mobile operating systems, with Google commanding 73% and Apple accounting for 27% of the market. In Australia, the split is more like 50/50.

"Apple and Google's dominance in mobile OS, combined with the control exerted over the app marketplaces permitted into their mobile ecosystems, means that the App Store and the Play Store control the key gateways through which app developers can access consumers on mobile devices," says the report.

The ACCC in March began assessing the basis for a formal probe into pre-installed software and pre-defined "default" choices on mobile devices, including Google being set as the default search engine on Apple devices. The app store report is just the latest development in the ACCC's ongoing Digital Platform Services Inquiry.

Top Rated Comments

Steve121178 Avatar
13 weeks ago
Please no more "choice screens". Anyone who lives in the EU will know how damn annoying that was when it came to browser selection on Windows.

Then there's the constant cookie warnings websites must display at every new visit here in Europe.

I don't want politicians to make our devices annoying to use. Stay out! People can easily select a browser or map app of their choice.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jsmith189 Avatar
13 weeks ago
I understand not wanting to allow third-party apps to be pre-installed, but this feels like complaining just for the sake of complaining. Australia, you're bored.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Steve121178 Avatar
13 weeks ago

I understand not wanting to allow third-party apps to be pre-installed, but this feels like complaining just for the sake of complaining. Australia, you're bored.
You'd think they'd have more pressing things to be getting on with, wouldn't you?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jsmith189 Avatar
13 weeks ago

Then there's the constant cookie warnings websites must display at every new visit here in Europe.
Same in AU. The worst.

I understand the need to allow competition and to not completely monopolise everything. But, I don't want my entire OS bogged down with "ARE YOU SURE" ... "DO YOU WANT" ... "HOW ABOUT YOU USE" ... "HEY DID YOU KNOW" - like stop it. Just go to the App Store and go for your life.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Krizoitz Avatar
13 weeks ago

One of a number of proposed changes is the introduction of "choice screens" that allow consumers to choose between all first-party apps and third-party alternatives.
Congratulations, it now takes you a week to set up your new phone as you have to scroll through a seemingly endless list of apps for each function.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Krizoitz Avatar
13 weeks ago

It would unquestionably be good for consumers and minorities in the long run
Minorities?! LOL How in the world is the AppStore bad for minorities?! I thought I’d seen the most ridiculous anti-Apple argument but congratulations sir/madam, you have managed to surprise me.


App Stores are evil. Criminalise them.
Evil? Wow, you have a very broad definition of that word. Next up your like to criminalize grocery stores I presume? I mean why should THEY get to decide what products they sell! Anyone should be anle to sell their products anywhere anytime they want right? Tomorrow I’m setting up shop in your home. Oh and you aren’t allowed to charge me rent. In Phazers world no one has any rights! Weeeee
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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