Report: Apple Considering Letting Users Swap Native Apps for Third-Party Options

Mail, Safari, Maps could be replaced with options like Google Chrome and Gmail

What: A new report says Apple is considering letting users replace as the default some of their native mobile apps on iOS devices and swapping out Apple Music on the HomePod smart speaker.

How: There’s nothing stopping users from installing and using third-party mobile apps on iOS, but you can’t use them to replace Apple’s native apps and, as a result, those apps don't enjoy the same level of access and control. That could change.

Why Do You Care: If you’re tired of having to specify and jump through hoops to open links in Apple’s Mail App on Google Chrome, this may be the news you’ve been waiting for.

Apple Maps, Messages, Mail and Safari apps on iPhone
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre

You probably use Apple’s Safari on your iPhone. It’s a good mobile browser, but do you use it by choice, or because every iPhone ships with it (and other Apple native apps) pre-installed?

It’s a question Apple may already be asking itself. A new Bloomberg report claims that Apple is now considering letting users set third-party apps as their default options.

Currently, all iPhones (and iPads) ship with Safari, Maps, Photos, and Mail pre-installed. These are the apps iOS opens by default when you, respectively, want to read your mail, open a link, get directions, and manage photos.

It's possible right now to use Gmail and Chrome on your iPhone, but Mail links open automatically in Safari. To open in Chrome, you must copy and paste the links. This change could conceivably connect Mail links directly to Chrome. Gmail for iOS gets around this by, essentially, integrating a web browser in Gmail, allowing you to open links without ever leaving the app or opening Safari.

Apple may be considering this more open move as a preventive measure. In 2018, the European Union fined Google $5 billion for “illegally” tying Chrome and search to Android. Perhaps Apple wants to avoid similar scrutiny and fines.

The company is also, according to the report, considering letting users swap out the default music service on its HomePods. Currently, the smart speakers are tied to Apple Music, but this change might let you connect the HomePods up to your Spotify account.

While Apple might someday let you choose your favorite browser and email apps, don’t expect Apple to also let you delete its native apps. Apple’s Photos, Safari, Mail, and Maps have deep connections to the iOS platform. Removing them wouldn’t break iOS, but could limit some of your iPhone’s functionality.

Via: Bloomberg