Apple is seriously considering the possibility of allowing users to change the default apps for browsing the web, email, or music on their iPhones. The company may also allow users to listen to Spotify or other music streaming services besides Apple Music through Siri on the iPhone or HomePod smart speaker.
These revelations were outlined this morning in a report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, citing several people familiar with Apple's internal plans.
Although Apple's plans are not final, the changes may take effect as soon as Apple's iOS 14 is released later this year. This means that they will likely be introduced during the Apple developer conference in June this year.
Currently iOS users can download third party applications for email or web browsing such as Outlook or Firefox. However, you cannot set them as default applications that the system opens when, for example, a link or an email address is tapped in another application. Apple in some cases allows users to do these things with its macOS desktop and laptop software, although this is not possible on the company's mobile platforms.
This could help Apple's iOS platform compete with Google's Android, which dominates the smartphone market. This lack of flexibility in iOS is sometimes cited by users as the reason to choose Android, as Android has long offered these choices to users.
And, as Bloomberg notes, more elegant support for streaming services alongside Apple Music would almost certainly be a blessing for the sale of the Apple HomePod Smart Speaker, as this lack of flexibility is a major limitation for this product compared to its competitors. Yes, HomePod users can stream Spotify to HomePod using Apple's AirPlay technology. However, many users believe that this is not a complete solution.
When these changes occur, they are welcome for many iPhone owners. And they can help Apple prevent or process some lawsuits or antitrust complaints.
Using music as an example, Spotify filed a cartel complaint with representatives of the European Union, alleging that Apple wrongly prioritized its own music streaming service over Spotify, even if users intentionally visited Spotify. Spotify has pointed out, among other things, that Apple stacked search results in its app store on the device with first-party software results at the expense of third-party providers like Spotify, although Apple has already responded to these complaints by at least partially correcting this specific problem ]. Spotify also referred to the industry-unique lack of direct Spotify support on the HomePod.
These changes may put Apple in a better position to argue against accusations of unfair business practices. Some users will be happy with more options, although others may be frustrated or confused by a more open platform. In any case, the change would likely make iOS more attractive to more users.
The Bloomberg sources carefully clarified that no final decisions have yet been made. Given Apple's longstanding commitment to another philosophy, the fact that this change is being seriously considered is an important development in and of itself.
With the release of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 in 2019, Apple has already started to lift some minor restrictions on customizing the mobile operating system by users. If these changes for standard apps go into the future, they could introduce a dramatic change in Apple's software strategy, whether they improve users, appease regulators, or both.