iOS 14: New iPhone update could allow people to change default music, messaging apps and more, report says

Andrew Griffin
A man uses his mobile phone as he walks past advertising for the new iPhones outside the Apple store in Hong Kong on October 10, 2019: PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

Apple could be about to loosen up restrictions on the iPhone and allow people to choose their own default apps, according to a new report.

The iPhone has always been famous for its more restrictive approach when compared with rival Android. It means that users are forced to stick with Apple's own Mail and Music apps as the default choice on its software, for instance.

But the company is considering allowing apps made by other companies to take those roles instead, in what would be one of the most momentous changes to come to the iOS platform, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

It would mean that people would be able to open an email link on their phone and actually send the message in the Gmail app, for instance. Or it could allow people to use Spotify from Apple's HomePod speakers, which at the moment favour Apple Music.

It comes amid questions over the way that companies such as Apple use their platforms to enforce their dominance in the tech industry. Apple has faced questions over the power of the App Store, for instance, which it completely controls and is the only way for apps to get onto the iPhone.

Since the App Store arrived a year after the iPhone, in 2008, Apple has allowed people to put third-party apps onto their phone. But they have never had the same powers as Apple's own apps.

That means that users can download third-party browsers like Google's Chrome or Firefox, for instance, but that clicking on a link from a text message will always take them to Apple's own Safari. Likewise a user might have Microsoft Outlook or Gmail installed, and can use them for emails, but clicking an email link will still always bring up Apple's own Mail apps.

On Android, by comparison, people are able to choose which browser, messaging app, email client or music platform they would prefer to use, and that will be set as the default. Even though Android phones come with Google apps installed, people are able to stop using them more easily.

Any changes could arrive in iOS 14, Bloomberg reported. That update is likely to be revealed at Apple's WWDC event in summer, followed by a public release around September, at roughly the same time as the release of the new iPhone.

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