Apple may let people pick alternative default apps on the iPhone, marking a radical change of philosophy

Tim Cook

AP

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Apple is reportedly considering giving iPhone users a degree of flexibility over their default apps.
  • Bloomberg reported that iPhone users could potentially pick alternatives to the Safari mobile browser and Mail email app as their default services.
  • It would be a radical change for a company that has always tightly controlled the iPhone experience.
  • Currently, Apple treats its own apps as the default in a number of ways: for example, when someone opens a web link sent to them on an iPhone, it automatically opens in Safari, Apple's proprietary web browser.
  • Business Insider has approached Apple for comment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple is considering make a radical change to the iPhone experience by letting users pick their own default apps.

According to anonymous sources who spoke to Bloomberg, it's considering letting users choose third-party apps as their default on its mobile devices, meaning a user could switch away from the Safari mobile browser or the Mail email app as their default browser or email service.

Currently, Apple devices treat the firm's own apps as the default in a number of ways: for example, when someone opens a web link sent to them on an iPhone, it automatically opens in Safari, Apple's proprietary web browser.

The tech giant is also reportedly considering loosening restrictions on third-party music apps, including its top streaming rival Spotify, on its HomePod home speakers.

Currently, if a HomePod user asks Siri to play a particular song on their HomePod, it will be automatically streamed via Apple Music by default. So, if Apple loosens this restriction, HomePod users will be able to stream music via third-party music apps like Spotify or Pandora automatically when asking Siri to play a song.

Bloomberg says the changes could take place as part of iOS 14, which is set for release later this year.

It's a radical shift for a firm that has always maintained tight control over the way users experience its devices and always knitted its software and hardware experiences together. This closed ecosystem has often alienated fans of Android devices, who cite greater flexibility and choice as well as price as reasons to opt for phones powered by Google's OS.

Apple also faces a wave of antitrust scrutiny over whether it pushes its own services on iOS users at the expense of rivals.

In November 2019, US lawmakers grilled Apple on - among other specific issues - its unwillingness to let users uninstall Safari; its insistence that Safari is the default browser which iPhone web links are opened in; and on the inability of rival web browsers to deploy their own web browsing engines when running on Apple's operating system.

Apple's responses to these questions invoked themes such as functionality, privacy and security, while denying allegations of anticompetitive behavior.

European music streaming service Spotify also filed a complaint to the EU's antitrust regulated in March, saying that Apple's strict rules for the App Store gave an unfair advantage to Apple Music, a rival to Spotify. Apple shot back at the complaint, saying it wouldn't be a successful business without the App Store.

Business Insider has approached Apple for comment.

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