The number of apps preinstalled on iPhone devices has grown steadily over the years, starting at 16 on the original iPhone and spiking to 38 on the latest model. Users have never been able to change some default apps, such as Safari and Mail, but over the years, Apple may finally allow users to choose third-party alternatives.
If it becomes a reality, Safari and Mail will likely be the most affected, as they are two of the most widely used apps on iPhone and iPad devices. It turns out that iOS devices automatically launch the built-in Safari web browser when the user clicks a link. Users can download other browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox, but cannot make it the default option.
The same goes for the Mail app – there are no settings or controls that allow users to switch from the built-in Mail app to a third-party solution. According to Bloomberg, Apple is currently discussing whether the changes are necessary. If Apple chooses to get rid of its own users, it can run on Android as well as on iOS.
This is a big decision given that Apple wants to have full control over its ecosystem. Being pinned as the default app is a distinct advantage over the competition. Using the defaults is more convenient than manually turning on third-party options.
In addition to these mobile devices, Apple is also reportedly allowing third-party music services to run directly on its HomePod smart speaker. It turns out that users can use AirPlay to stream to the HomePod from Spotify and other music apps on an iPhone or iPad, but not directly from the speakers.
There could be changes, which serve a dual purpose for Apple, allowing third-party services to run directly from the HomePod will reduce Spotify’s antitrust arguments and will also make the HomePod a more attractive option in a crowded field. It is estimated that the HomePod accounts for only 5% of the smart speaker market.
Whether there is any such thing remains to be seen. If it does, it will likely launch as part of iOS 14 later this year.