In a nutshell: Once an overly-strict product-repair Nazi, Apple has been easing its policies regarding fixing its devices lately. It is now rolling out a third-party repair initiative to the EU and Canada. It started the program last year and has seen a positive response, with over 700 shops being given training, tools, and parts to fix iPhones.

On Wednesday, Apple announced it is expanding its third-party iPhone repair program to Canada and Europe. It initiated the service about a year ago in the US. The pilot offers independent repair shops the tools, training, and access to Apple-certified parts to fix its products.

"We are thrilled to expand our independent repair program to more locations across the US and to businesses across Europe and Canada," said COO Jeff Williams. "When a customer needs a repair, we want them to have a range of options that not only suits their needs but also guarantees safety and quality so their iPhone can be used for as long as possible."

The initiative is kind of a big deal as Cupertino has a bad reputation with the right-to-repair crowd. It has participated with other companies in lobbying against laws that would force it to make its tools and part available to the general public and competing repair shops. Installing Macs with unauthorized-repair kill switches didn't help matters any either.

However, more recently, Apple has been loosening its death grip on keeping repairs in-house. Earlier this year it began offering in-home fixes. Before that, it loosened restrictions that prevented authorized partners or even the Genius Bar from fixing iPhones that had been "tampered" with or used unauthorized parts.

The company claims that it currently has more than 5,000 approved repair locations. This count includes Apple retail outlets, certified shops, Best Buy, and the 700-plus independent providers it has greenlighted since starting the program last August. Another 140 US repair businesses are awaiting approval.

Participating is not simply a matter of asking Apple for the tools. There are training videos and a verification process to go through before being given the go-ahead. Repair houses interested in fixing iPhones are directed to sign up online through its Independent Repair Provider portal.

Image credit: Difught