Apple Users in Europe Get a New Third-Party App Store

Altstore PAL is available only to EU residents after a ruling that Apple has to allow third-party app stores.

Joe Hindy
3 min read
Lexy Savvides holding the iPhone 13 Pro Max

EU residents have a new app store.

John Kim/CNET

In the wake of the European Union's Digital Markets Act, Apple is required to allow users in the region to install rival app stores on their iPhones. After a lengthy process including implementing various security checks, the first Apple-approved third-party app store, Altstore PAL, is available now for download in the EU. 

Altstore, which went live on Wednesday, is priced at 1.50 euro (plus tax) per month, to offset the new Apple tax on third-party app stores. Installation is easy enough, although Apple tries to dissuade users numerous times from choosing to install the competing app store, according to a report from The Verge.

Once installed, users will find two apps. The first is Clip, a clipboard manager for iOS that runs in the background and saves your clips for future use. The app requires a monthly Patreon pledge of 1 euro per month.

Altstore's other app, Delta, is a Nintendo console emulator that can emulate a few different consoles, including the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, a few different Game Boys and the Nintendo DS. Delta is available free of charge as a thank you to users who paid to use Altstore. The emulator was also released on the regular Apple App Store. Unlike iGBA, which received the boot from Apple a couple of days ago, Delta is legitimate and should stay on the App Store for the long term. 

Read more: Apple Boots the First Emulator to Launch on the App Store in a Decade

Altstore is aimed at indie developers

Riley Testut, developer of Altstore and the two apps, wants Altstore to be the top destination for indie developers. The store is aimed at developers who are making apps that would otherwise be unable to make it into the App Store. Clip, one of the first two apps, would never be approved on the Apple App Store thanks to the workarounds it uses to run in the background at all times.

Altstore uses Apple's new Web Distribution, which allows developers to more easily distribute apps to users in the EU. End users will be able to add "sources" to Altstore, giving them a larger number of apps to browse and install. "Sources" refers to developers hosting apps on their own servers. Users can add a source to Altstore and then will have more apps to download, similar to adding an RSS feed to a newsreader.

Read more: Apple Lays Out Security Plan for Third-Party App Stores on the iPhone

Altstore will allow paid apps

Altstore will lean on Patreon, the monetization platform that lets users pay for original content from their favorite creators. Developers will be encouraged to use the platform primarily to offset Apple's core technology fee, or CTF. That fee requires developers to pay 0.50 euro for the first installation per user. That user can then download the app an unlimited number of times per year. When the next year starts, the first app update, user installation or reinstallation will generate another 0.50 euro charge to the app developer. 

Since Altstore is marketed primarily at indie developers, Patreon allows developers to consistently communicate with their users. The store is set up to allow developers to offer different tiers of payment. End users might pay 0.50 euro for a base installation and then pay a higher price for the premium version of the app at a later date. App developers can also charge one subscription for access to all of their apps, something that the Apple App Store doesn't allow. 

Those not in the EU can still use the store, but it requires some extra steps, including the installation of AltServer. Altstore's website has instructions for installation.