Apple is considering giving third-party apps more weightage on its devices, allowing users the freedom to choose 'rival' apps and services as default on their iPhone, iPad or even the HomePod, according to Bloomberg.
This comes as a revolution for many, considering Apple hasn't allowed users to replace pre-installed apps with third-party services since the launch of the App Store in 2008.
These changes may arrive in iOS 14
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Apple is "discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options" on the iPhone and iPad.
And though the plans are in preliminary stage, these changes may arrive as early as this year in iOS 14, the next version of Apple's mobile operating system.
Why is this policy change a big deal for everyone?
At present, if you click a web link on an iPhone, it automatically opens in Safari. Similarly, if you tap an email address (say, on a website) you are redirected to Apple's Mail app.
However, if Apple loosens these restrictions (for the first time in 12 years), you can set Gmail as the default mail app or Chrome as your preferred web browser.
Even Siri could get support for third-party services
According to Bloomberg, Apple is also mulling whether to "let users set competing music services as the default with Siri on iPhones and iPads." And this third-party app support for Siri could also expand to phone calls and messaging.
Moreover, the company is even considering "loosening restrictions on third-party music apps, including its top streaming rival Spotify" on HomePods, the Siri-powered smart home speaker.
These changes could be due to increasing antitrust scrutiny
Apple is weighing on these significant changes as the company faces increasing antitrust scrutiny in the US and in Europe.
Bloomberg highlights that the company's "closed system to prohibit users from setting third-party apps as defaults" was questioned last year, wherein lawmakers "pressed the issue of whether iPhone users can make non-Apple apps their defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email, and music."