Users can’t replace Apple’s default apps with third-party options; U.S. House antitrust panel wants to know why

Apple's App Store
Apple’s App Store

Mark Gurman for Bloomberg:

When consumers fire up the latest iPhones for the first time in the coming weeks, they’ll find the device brimming with Apple Inc.’s home-grown apps, already installed and set as default programs. This prized status isn’t available to outside software, making it hard for some developers to compete, and that’s catching the eye of lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.

In 2007, the iPhone had 17 pre-installed apps. Today, there are 38. And since the App Store launched in 2008, Apple has never let consumers set a third-party app as a default option, unlike on Android, Windows, and Apple’s own macOS computer operating system… A House antitrust panel wrote to Apple recently to demand executive communications relating to iPhone default apps. The lawmakers want to learn about the company’s policies on whether iPhone users can set non-Apple apps as defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email and music… Similarly, competing apps in other categories, including mobile payments, coding and secondary displays, are limited by Apple keeping some of its device functionality exclusively for its own software…

Android is more flexible, giving outside developers more access. It offers a central panel in the settings menu to change system-wide default apps for the Google voice assistant, web browser, phone, messaging, and mobile payment apps.

MacDailyNews Take: Government regulators not going to be satisfied until they make Apple’s iPhone the same insecure cesspool as Google’s Android – not in the interest of “competition,” but in the interest of government surveillance.

Obviously, there are security implications here. And privacy concerns. Apple is right to restrict the use of iPhone’s NFC chip, for example, and not allow the likes of Google to access things like the Secure Enclave. Google couldn’t even be trusted not to track Safari users who explicitly told Google not to track them!

As for more innocuous situations, like allowing other music services to be the default, Apple should, and likely will (or be forced to), allow it. Then people who inexplicably pay the same price for a much smaller music library can make Spotify their default instead of Apple Music.

On fact that may save iOS users from feckless politicians in the end: Apple doesn’t have a monopoly in smartphones. Not even close:

Mobile Operating System Market Share Worldwide, September 2019:
• Android: 76.24%
• iOS: 22.48%

Apple clearly has no monopoly, so “monopoly abuse,” which antitrust law is designed to correct, is therefore impossible.

If consumers and developers, who these government inquiries are supposedly meant to protect, do not like Apple’s walled garden approach to their iOS/iPadOS/watchOS/tvOS platform(s), they can purchase and develope for myriad other smartphones. Apple’s iOS and iPadOS users’ security should not be compromised so that a handful of morons can stupidly assign random insecure mobile payment systems as their default.


  1. Will TVs, refrigerators, cars, thermostats, toasters, electric toothbrushes, electronic locks, MRIs and everything else in the world with an operating system going to be made “open”? If the iPhone is sold as a phone, I think Apple has every reason to command how it’s phone app functions, or it’s not an Apple phone. Should electric car makers be forced to allow other autodriving software makers to install this function in their cars? If you don’t like the Safari browser being default, get an Android phone, then slumping iPhone sales will compel Apple to provide alternate default settings. Lawmakers need not be involved in this type of issue.

    1. A more fundamental question is… “TVs, refrigerators, cars, thermostats, toasters, electric toothbrushes, electronic locks, are appliances. Is and iPhone or an iPad, or is it a computer, a means of productivity, expression, and personal utility”

  2. Third party apps do not move the football forward, if Apple didn’t take upon themselves design their own apps, cpu, and hardware they would be dead in the computing world.

      1. No, Ye of little memory Apple over the years has had to design software, and hardware devices to support their main products when no one else would, iMessage was designed to sell their hardware and now in recent times, because Apple (iPhone, Apple Watch) has blown up, the freebie crowd want’s Apple to share it.

  3. To the commenters here who decry the possibility that Apple would let customers choose a different default browser or email client, how do you feel about the fact that Apple already allows this on MacOS (and since the early days of OS X)?

    1. All of the apps, designed by Apple in house have come out because the greater market refused to support Mac’s or iOS iPhone, iPad, and that is still true today. Apple (Mac’s, iPhone’s, iPad’s) are the most profitable part of the market not the biggest.

      1. you cannot be serious. you think Apple put mail, flashlight, maps, etc on the iPhone because no 3rd party offers good alternatives???? come back to reality, please.

        iOS became a hit because of 3rd party apps, not in spite of it. Apple apps often leave much to be desired. they are just like MS Internet Destroyer. default app preying on lazy users to steer them tighter into the company’s pocket.

        the question that Apple apologists refuse to answer is how they expect a store to remain a fair marketplace when the store owner gets to review (and copy) the code from independent developers. if a developer makes lots of money, the store owner can duplicate the successful app, and undercut the price, slow walk app reviews, arbitrarily throw out the competitor for rules only the store owner can make, and/or bury the competitor app without promotion. the store owner literally has monopoly power over distribution of the work of tens of thousands of developers. some people say that Timbo would never do that. that is not good enough. self regulation of industries never works. all rich companies eventually get powerful and corrupt. you think Timbo has a good handle on his hundreds of VPs? dream on.

        1. Well, every time you go to or shop at any supermarket, department or online store in the world house brands are everywhere why is the Apple app store any different it isn’t. The same idea applies to cars I don’t get to put GM parts in my 911 and yes Apple or Porsche control what goes inside their devices. If you don’t like it don’t buy it.

          1. Damned right – if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. If you have to try it to find out you don’t like it, Apple a fair return policy, as do the wireless providers that resell.

  4. How about… because it’s Apple’s product? Just a thought… And if you don’t want Apple’s product you don’t need to buy it. Shocker I know. And even more so, you never need to use those apps, can download others and use those. BIG shocker.

    It’s like, you know, I go buy a car and I get all this stuff the car company chose for me. Bose speakers, a XYZ transmission, leather seats from Eddie Bauer, and when I ask for different stuff, they say no, this is what the car comes with, take it or leave it, or do tremendous potential damage and change the stuff after you buy it.

    Isn’t that nuts!?

    There is no sanity left out there folks. Wow, all I can think of is people suing to make a quick buck or Government minions looking for ways to secure more and more power over liberty. Ugh…

  5. I don’t like to use Google — along with Facebook, the most intrusive internet entities on the planet — or any of the listed search engines. I prefer, but iOS doesn’t allow me to set it as default.


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