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Apple Is Considering Relaxing Rules on Third-Party Apps

Apple is considering relaxing rules on third-party apps, a media report says. The tech giant has been criticized for giving its homegrown apps an unfair advantage in the App Store and in iOS.
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Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report is considering loosening restrictions on third-party apps to give users more choice in setting default apps, a media report says. 

A number of changes could include allowing users to replace preinstalled apps, namely Safari or Mail, with third-party options of their choosing, according to Bloomberg. 

The Cupertino, Calif., company could also loosen restrictions on third-party music rival Spotify and open its HomePod speaker to third-party music-streaming services. 

Apple currently installs 38 default apps, Bloomberg reported. They include the Safari web browser, Maps, Messages, Mail and others. 

Developers have long complained that Apple's closed system unfairly freezes them out. 

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In addition to the restrictions in Apple's operating system, the company takes a 30% cut of subscriptions made within the App Store. 

Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix, Inc. Report, Spotify  (SPOT) - Get Spotify Technology SA Report and Alphabet's  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report YouTube have distanced themselves from Apple's App Store fees by directing users to sign up on their own sites. 

Last year, Spotify filed an antitrust complaint in the EU, arguing that Apple unfairly squeezes rivals by charging fees and locking them out of certain platforms, such as HomePod. 

Apple's App Store practices are also the subject of an antitrust probe in the U.S., with the Department of Justice reportedly questioning developers over their dealings with Apple. 

If Apple introduces any changes to how third-party apps work on its operating systems, investors and others may hear more at its annual WWDC developer conference, which is typically held in June. 

Apple shares at last check were trading 1.2% lower at $319.91.