Exciting news for iPhone users in the EU as they will soon have the ability to download apps from sources outside of Apple’s official App Store, all in order to comply with European regulations. This new development, reported by Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman, is expected to roll out in the first half of 2024.
Known as sideloading, this change will give customers the ability to download apps without relying on the App Store, ultimately eliminating the need for developers to pay Apple’s hefty 15 to 30 percent fees.
In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman also revealed that Apple plans to implement a “highly controlled system” to allow EU users to install apps from other sources. These changes are anticipated to be part of a localized update within iOS 17, affecting Messages and payment apps as well.
These updates slightly contradict previous reports suggesting that sideloading would occur with Apple’s iOS 17.2 update. It was mistakenly believed that new code related to app distribution for organizations was linked to sideloading. Regardless, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is putting pressure on Apple to open its services and platforms to other companies and developers, with the potential to significantly impact Apple’s platforms, including the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, and Siri.
Apple has expressed concerns regarding privacy and security, stating that sideloading could make iPhone users more susceptible to malware, scams, and data tracking. However, Apple must comply with the DMA to avoid facing fines of up to 20 percent of its global revenue for violations of EU laws.
Furthermore, Apple has also considered implementing verification processes for third-party app installations, potentially charging a fee for this service. If other countries follow suit with similar legislation, alternate app stores could expand beyond the EU, with the United States also mulling over requirements for sideloading.