After we recently tested it in beta, the third-party iOS app store AltStore PAL is now live in the European Union thanks to Apple’s compliance with the region’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The store requires a €1.50 (plus tax) annual subscription to cover Apple’s Core Technology Fee (CTF) for installing the app marketplace itself.

Installing AltStore PAL requires clicking through a lot of Apple’s clumsily implemented scare sheets that double and triple check your desire to install apps from outside Apple’s App Store. But with persistence and enough clicks it eventually installs.

The new app marketplace is arriving with two apps developed by Riley Testut: Delta, an emulator capable of playing NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS games; and Clip, a clipboard manager that’s forbidden by Apple. The store is the work of Testut and his business partner Shane Gill.

A look at Delta’s entry on the AltStore PAL app marketplace.
Image: Riley Testut

AltStore PAL is integrating its marketplace with Patreon for monetization, and will support developers who want to distribute beta apps as a reward for crowd-sourced funding, which isn’t allowed in the App Store. Delta is free to help offset the CTF, but downloading Clip requires a minimum monthly Patreon pledge of €1 (plus tax).

Delta supports horizontal gameplay and external controllers.

Neither app is brand new, nor is the app store they’re launching on, really. AltStore has been around since 2019 for iOS, but until now installing it has involved a workaround that basically tricks the iPhone into thinking you’re the app’s developer using a companion piece of software called AltServer running on a Mac or PC. It’s a bit hacky, even if it doesn’t technically involve jailbreaking your phone.

Now, thanks to the DMA, Delta and Clip are getting a legitimate Apple notarized launch on the AltStore PAL app marketplace in the EU. You can read our impressions of the two apps in our hands on.

Both apps highlight the kind of software that might be possible on the iPhone now that developers don’t always have to go through Apple’s App Store to get onto customer’s devices. As a game emulator, Delta sits in a legal gray area that Apple only recently decided to support. Clip, meanwhile, needs to use several workarounds in order to run in the background indefinitely and, per Testut, these workarounds “are all against App Store rules.” Arguably there are good reasons for this — you need to know you can trust Clip if it sees everything you copy and paste on your phone — but it’s something you need to consider for yourself rather than relying on Apple to do it on your behalf.

Testut says AltStore PAL is also open to submissions from third-party developers as well. Unlike Apple’s centralized App Store, the plan is for AltStore PAL apps to be self-hosted by developers on their own servers, and users have to add additional “sources” to the app marketplace to download software made by other developers.

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