Google and Apple are making changes to adhere to EU antitrust law

18 Jan 2024

Image: © dlyastokiv/

Apple is reportedly splitting its App Store in two while Google is tweaking search settings and browser choices for EU consumers ahead of the DMA.

In recent days, both Google and Apple have hinted at some of the changes they are making to their services under the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

First proposed in 2020, the DMA is finally due to come into effect in March of this year. It aims to make markets in the digital sector fairer, and a lot of Big Tech companies have already been warned that as “gatekeepers” they must comply with the new rules. Gatekeepers are large companies with what the EU considers to be a disproportionately large share of the market.

Microsoft and Apple were quick to protest their designation as gatekeepers under the act. But now it looks as though some companies have changed their tune to march to the EU’s drumbeat.

Bloomberg reported earlier this week that Apple intends to split its App Store in two, separating its EU store from the rest of the world. It will have one store in the EU where it will allow third-party app stores and third-party payments and another store where it can do as it has always done regarding third parties. Apple has until 7 March to enact any changes it needs to make to comply with the legislation.

Meanwhile, Google has confirmed that it will be making changes to its services to comply with the DMA. In a statement published on January 17 by Google’s legal director, the company said it has begun testing and rolling out products to prepare for the incoming EU legislation.

It said it will be testing “a number of changes” to its search results pages in the EU over the coming weeks. “We will introduce dedicated units that include a group of links to comparison sites from across the web and query shortcuts at the top of the search page to help people refine their search, including by focusing results just on comparison sites.”

In addition, Google will start testing “a dedicated space for comparison sites and direct suppliers to show more detailed individual results including images, star ratings and more”. Features such as Google Flights unit will be removed from the search page as a result of the tweaks.

As well as search changes, there will be changes made around obtaining consent for linked services. “Over the next few weeks, we will be presenting European users with an additional consent banner to ask them whether some services can continue to share data for those purposes.” The statement added that users can change their preferences in their Google account settings.

Finally, Android users will be able to switch their default search engine or browser. “Under the DMA, we and other designated companies will need to show additional choice screens,” Google said, warning users that they may start to see these choices appear on their iOS, Chrome and Android devices during the set-up process from March 6 onwards.

While Google may seem less bullish than Apple and Microsoft on complying with DMA rules, its statement did say that it has concerns around the level of choice EU customers will have.

“While we support many of the DMA’s ambitions around consumer choice and interoperability, the new rules involve difficult trade-offs, and we’re concerned that some of these rules will reduce the choices available to people and businesses in Europe,” it said.

As well as Apple, Microsoft and Google, other EU designated gatekeepers include ByteDance, Amazon and Meta.

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Blathnaid O’Dea is Careers reporter at Silicon Republic