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Apple Photos app should be uninstallable according to the EU

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Apple could face a new problem in European markets after comments from EU representatives stating that Apple Photos (and other system apps) should be uninstallable. The Cupertino-based company has had to make big changes in recent years due to EU regulations, such as allowing the installation of third-party app stores on iPhones. However, uninstalling some core OS apps could be technically unfeasible.

As spotted by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton (two of the EU leaders) made comments about Apple and compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). According to them, Apple has not complied with the regulations. Mentioning the impossibility of uninstalling some system apps, like Apple Photos. The statement published by the EU includes the following:

Under Article 6(3) of the DMA, gatekeepers have an obligation to enable easy uninstallation of apps and easy change of default settings. They must also display a choice screen. Apple's compliance model does not seem to meet the objectives of this obligation … Apple also failed to make several apps un-installable (one of them would be Photos) and prevents end-users from changing their default status (for example Cloud), as required by the DMA.

Making the Apple Photos app uninstallable could be a very complicated task

As the statement suggests, the EU believes that even some system apps, like Apple Photos, should be uninstallable to comply with the law. However, accomplishing this could be quite complicated due to the nature of the OS core apps. Core apps are usually part of a whole set of interconnected functions that need to be present for everything to work correctly. In the case of Apple, which develops iOS features with total control of the system in mind, the task could be even more difficult.

That said, it wouldn't be the first time the EU backtracked on certain intentions for one reason or another. For example, a while ago, iMessage was under investigation as to whether it should be considered a core platform service or not. A negative ruling would have forced Apple to develop cross-platform messaging between iMessage and other services. As is happening with WhatsApp. However, the final decision was not to enforce interoperability between iMessage and other services.

For now, it is not certain that the European Commission will force Apple to make Apple Photos and other system apps uninstallable. That said, the technical challenge it would take to accomplish that task could even make Apple reconsider its presence in EU markets.

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