AltStore PAL warning issued to users on iOS 17.5, do not delete your app — awkward Apple implementation breaks reinstalls of app marketplaces

Alt Store on iOS
(Image credit: iMore)

Alternative app marketplace Alt Store PAL currently has a major bug on iPhones running iOS 17.5 in EU countries, with apps refusing to reinstall when deleted.

Users have discovered that when they try to reinstall Alt Store PAL, an alternative app marketplace only available in EU countries, on iOS 17.5, the installation fails, displaying a ‘Could Not Install App’ message. A tweet by Mysk, an account run by two iOS developers, explains that iOS 17.5 fails to recognize that Alt Store PAL can be reinstalled on certain Apple ID accounts in the EU, due to a ‘client_id’ label in the software’s code being reset.

The Mysk account also explains how the Core Technology Fee (CTF), which Apple charges for developers wanting to release app marketplaces in the EU, may be partially at fault. The company charges €0.50 per app (after the first one million downloads, which are free) which covers its installation, reinstallations, and updates for a single year. As such, the identifier used here is vital to help developers track the true number of installations of their app and the CTF charges they might incur as a result. 

Shared accounts that could install an app multiple times could lead to extra charges, so marketplaces need a unique identifier to track these installs correctly. As Mysk explains: "Apple has to provide an identifier so that marketplaces can keep track of devices that have already installed the apps. Apple knows very well that providing a unique identifier per user to a third party may have severe privacy consequences. At the same time Apple insists on charging a perpetual fee. This struggle is obviously making it too complicated for Apple to deliver a decent and workable solution."  

Those behind Alt Store PAL, Riley Testut and Shane Gill, who are also responsible for the multi-system emulator Delta, have since confirmed in a post on Threads that a “long-term fix” is in the works, and urged users not to delete Alt Store PAL for the time being.

At this point, WWDC 2024 needs to remake CTF — iMore’s take

We are weeks away from the June 10 WWDC keynote, where Apple is expected to announce a bunch of AI features for iOS 18 and its other software updates. As WWDC is primarily a developer conference, Apple should focus on how it can help those developers, by starting from scratch when it comes to Core Technology Fee (CTF).

The CTF was introduced in January, alongside Apple’s plans for allowing app marketplaces in the EU in iOS 17.4, in order to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). We spoke to Riley Testut soon after this announcement, expressing his excitement at the time about these changes, as well as his thoughts on the CTF:

“I think the Core Technology Fee requirements could use some slight tweaking. Specifically, I think free apps should be completely exempt from this fee, otherwise, a free app going viral overnight could completely bankrupt an indie developer.“ It’s an interesting point, as this bug in iOS 17.5 would have had the potential to do exactly that for Alt Store PAL — if Testut hadn’t charged a €1.50 per year fee for users to install it. 

This reinstallation bug in iOS 17.5 proves why the CTF needs to be scrapped at WWDC. The feature is wholly based on developers paying Apple a set fee to offer alternative app marketplaces on iPhone. That may make sense for Apple, but it’s not great for developers, and changing the terms of the CTF since January hasn’t helped matters.  It would be great if Apple spoke directly with developers at the conference, discussing how a ‘CTF 2.0’ could benefit those who wanted to release an app marketplace in EU countries. Improved implementation of the CTF could help iron out some of the obstacles to offering alternative app marketplaces.

Apple should revise the CTF so that the €0.50 is a one-off payment rather than a recurring annual fee. Or it should reduce the scope of the CTF so that it only pertains to first-time installations and updates, rather than reinstallations, which has led to this AltStore snafu.  Discussions with developers could also lead to new ideas that could make both camps happy, and in turn, avoid situations like the one that AltStore PAL is currently facing.

Ultimately, this issue in iOS 17.5 is Apple’s doing. Hopefully, it gets resolved soon, but when it does, it will merely be a plaster on a bigger issue that the company started way back in January with the CTF.

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Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use every day to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. His second book, '50 Years of Boss Fights', came out in June 2024, and has a monthly newsletter called 'Springboard'. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64, and Daily Star.