In compliance with a new law in Russia, Apple will allow users to select the apps that they want to install on their iPhone during device setup. This will include a list of third-party apps like web browsers, messengers, email apps, and more. This would be the first time in the history of iOS devices that Apple would build such a feature, and will likely be used by other countries as well, where antitrust discussions are heating up.
Users in Russia will be offered to install third-party apps during device setup on iPhones, iPads and Macs
As found by 9to5Mac back in November, iOS 14.3 had some code that indicated that Apple is working on allowing third-party app suggestions when users upgrade their iPhones. This feature would be available in certain locations, to comply with local laws. It seems that the first use of this feature will start with Russia, and we expect that European countries would be next on the list, where showing third-party apps during system setup would become mandatory.
As reported by Russian newspaper Vedomosti, Apple has reached an agreement with the Ministry of Digital Affairs in Russia through which an app choice screen will be shown to users during device setup. The list of alternative third-party apps will be provided by the government and will include apps by developers like Yandex, Kaspersky, Mail.ru, and more.
Apple had previously said that it might withdraw from the Russian market if such a law was enforced, however, the company seems to have backtracked since then and agreed to play ball with the local laws. The law will go into effect from April 1 in Russia, which means that we can expect iOS 14.5 to be available by then with this feature.
iPhones have been popular for the fact that they have avoided any pre-installed apps mandated by cellular giants on other smartphones like Android. This has ensured that users get a clean and fast experience no matter where they buy an iPhone from. With this major new addition to iPhones, iPads, and Macs, it seems that Apple is looking to strike a fine balance between giving more choice to customers, and still providing the lean experience that it has offered.