Tech

Apple will open up the iPhone to third-party services, Spotify predicts

Apple's platforms will move to a less restrictive approach for third-party music services, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek claims.

closeup modern headphone on phone media portable
Shutterstock

Apple's platforms like the iPhone are set to open up more, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said Tuesday. The firm has criticized Apple in the past, taking legal action against what it perceives as unfair treatment of third-party services.

"Long term, we do expect Apple to open up," Ek told Bloomberg in a TV interview. “We’re very encouraged about being able to now finally use Siri as a way of building in voice support and also being available to build products for the Apple TV and Apple Watch, something that we haven’t been able to do until very recently."

Apple's platforms have been historically restrictive — It's a bold claim, particularly as Apple is famed for maintaining close control over its platforms. The iPhone only officially supports downloading apps through its App Store, for example, and developers have to abide by strict rules that can leave firms giving a percentage of user subscription fees to Apple. The Siri voice assistant also only offers limited support for third-party apps, rolling out support for a limited selection in 2016. Other restrictions include limited support on the HomePod smart speaker, and the inability to set a new default music app on iOS and iPadOS.

But it matches with previous rumors – If these moves come to fruition, the moves could help third-party music services like Tidal and Spotify offer the sort of integration currently restricted to Apple Music. It's not the first time the rumor has emerged — a February 2020 report claimed Apple is considering the ability for iOS users to set non-Apple apps as the default, as well as offering better support for services like Spotify on the HomePod.

If the changes do arrive with iOS 14, the first look at the new model could arrive at the end of June with the company's WWDC event.

Apple's HomePod.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Spotify's complaints are much broader – In March 2019, Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission over its perceived anti-competitive approach. It also launched a website, TimeToPlayFair, that criticizes Apple for five key issues, including a policy that takes a 30 percent cut of subscriptions and makes it harder to share deals and offers with users outside of the in-app purchase system.

In a rebuttal, Apple responded to the five issues and claimed that "after using the App Store for years to dramatically grow their business, Spotify seeks to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem — including the substantial revenue that they draw from the App Store’s customers — without making any contributions to that marketplace."