Alternative iOS App Stores Only Work for 'Grace Period' When Traveling Outside of EU

With the release of iOS 17.4, iPhone users in the European Union can access third-party app stores, but Apple warns that EU users traveling outside of the bloc will only have a "grace period" before some features stop working altogether when they're away.

App Store vs EU Feature 2
From Apple's support document detailing alternative app marketplaces:

If you leave the European Union for short-term travel, you'll continue to have access to alternative app marketplaces for a grace period. If you're gone for too long, you'll lose access to some features, including installing new alternative app marketplaces. Apps you installed from alternative app marketplaces will continue to function, but they can't be updated by the marketplace you downloaded them from.

We've contacted Apple for clarification on the duration of this "grace period" and are waiting to hear back.

Apple is allowing iPhone users in the EU access to alternative app stores in order to comply with the regulatory framework of the Digital Markets Act, which comes into effect for all 27 countries included in the bloc on March 7. The change means users can download apps from marketplaces outside of Apple's own App Store for the first time.

In iOS 17.4, EU users concerned with the potential privacy, safety, and security risks of alternative app marketplaces can set their preferred alternative app store as the default App Store on their device via Settings. A Screen Time setting also allows parents to decide whether their children's devices are able to install apps from alternative app marketplaces.

To gain access to alternative app marketplaces, the country or region of a user's Apple ID must be set to one of the countries or regions of the EU, and they must be physically located in the EU. Apple says device eligibility for access to alternative app marketplaces is determined by using on-device processing, with only an indicator of eligibility sent to Apple. To preserve user privacy, Apple does not collect a device's location.

The first alternative app marketplace will launch in the EU this week. German IT service provider Mobivention will launch its corporate-focused Mobivention App Marketplace on Thursday. MacPaw has also announced it will offer an alternative app marketplace sometime in April, while Epic Games also has plans to launch one.

For additional details about changes to the App Store and more in the EU, read our previous coverage. The changes do not apply outside of the EU, nor do they apply to iPadOS in any country.

Top Rated Comments

Mrkevinfinnerty Avatar
5 weeks ago
They make 90's Microsoft look like the care bears.
Score: 106 Votes (Like | Disagree)
krspkbl Avatar
5 weeks ago
This behaviour from Apple is making me consider not buying an iPhone when it's time to upgrade.
Score: 67 Votes (Like | Disagree)
krspkbl Avatar
5 weeks ago
They are desperately trying hard to do the absolute bare minimum. Pathetic.

Hopefully other countries force them to add alternative stores.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
treacher Avatar
5 weeks ago

This behaviour from Apple is making me consider not buying an iPhone when it's time to upgrade.
Already beat you to it. 20-year Apple user here; tossed it all. Their true colors are loudly on display these past few years.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wanha Avatar
5 weeks ago

Already beat you to it. 20-year Apple user here; tossed it all. Their true colors are loudly on display these past few years.
curious... why do you keep coming to Macrumors and commenting if you no longer have any Apple devices?
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
j26 Avatar
5 weeks ago
The lack of ability to update apps while not in the EU is not good enough. It introduces a security hole, as security updates will be parked until the person returns to the EU.

This will affect tens of thousands of cross-border workers, and students like my daughter who is from Ireland, but goes to college in the UK. Ireland is not the only country with a land border with non-EU countries, or who imports/exports students. There will be many people adversely affected by this.

And this from a company that's supposed to be all in on security!
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Camera Lozenge 2 Colors

iPhone 16 Plus Rumored to Come in These 7 Colors

Wednesday April 10, 2024 3:52 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone 16 Plus may come in seven colors that either build upon the existing five colors in the standard iPhone 15 lineup or recast them in a new finish, based on a new rumor out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker Fixed focus digital, Apple's upcoming larger 6.7-inch iPhone 16 Plus model will come in the following colors, compared to the colors currently available for the...
apple tv 4k yellow bg feature

When to Expect a New Apple TV to Launch

Tuesday April 9, 2024 8:30 am PDT by
It has been nearly a year and a half since the current Apple TV was released, so the device is becoming due for a hardware upgrade. Below, we recap rumors about the next Apple TV, including potential features and launch timing. The current model is the third-generation Apple TV 4K, announced in October 2022. Key new features compared to the previous model from 2021 include a faster A15...
apple silicon feature joeblue

Macs to Get AI-Focused M4 Chips Starting in Late 2024

Thursday April 11, 2024 10:10 am PDT by
Apple will begin updating its Mac lineup with M4 chips in late 2024, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The M4 chip will be focused on improving performance for artificial intelligence capabilities. Last year, Apple introduced the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max chips all at once in October, so it's possible we could see the M4 lineup come during the same time frame. Gurman says that the entire...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

iOS 18 May Feature All-New 'Safari Browsing Assistant'

Wednesday April 10, 2024 6:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 will apparently feature a new Safari browsing assistant, according to backend code on Apple's servers discovered by Nicolás Álvarez. MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris confirmed that the code exists, but not many details are known at this time. Álvarez said it seems like the browsing assistant will use iCloud Private Relay's infrastructure to send relevant data to Apple in a...

Review: Six Months With the iPhone 15 Pro

Wednesday April 10, 2024 10:53 am PDT by
It's been a bit over six months since the iPhone 15 lineup came out in September, and MacRumors videographer Dan Barbera has been using an iPhone 15 Pro Max sans case since launch. Over on our YouTube channel, Dan did a long term review to demo how his phone has held up and his thoughts on the Action button, battery life, and camera features. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

Alleged iPhone 16 Battery Details Show Smaller Capacity for One Model

Tuesday April 9, 2024 3:46 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup will feature bigger battery capacities compared to previous-generation models with the exception of the iPhone 16 Plus, which will have a smaller battery than its predecessor. That's according to the Chinese Weibo-based leaker OvO Baby Sauce OvO, a relatively new source of supply chain leaks with an as-yet unproven track record for accuracy. The iPhone 16 ...