In compliance with European regulations, iPhone users in the EU are expected to gain the ability to download applications from sources outside Apple’s official App Store starting in the first half of 2024, as reported by Mark Gurman from Bloomberg. This practice, commonly known as sideloading, will enable customers to acquire apps without utilizing the App Store, thereby relieving developers from the obligation to pay Apple’s 15 to 30 percent fees.
Gurman, in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, revealed that Apple intends to introduce a “highly controlled system” permitting EU users to install apps from external sources. Additionally, it is reported that Apple will make modifications to Messages and payment apps as part of these adjustments, likely through a localized iOS 17 update.
Contrary to a recent report suggesting sideloading might be introduced with Apple’s iOS 17.2 software update next month, Gurman clarified that the report misinterpreted new code related to an upcoming framework for organizations to distribute apps to employees.
The Digital Markets Act (DMA) of the European Union, effective since November 1, 2022, mandates “gatekeeper” companies to open their services and platforms to other companies and developers. This legislation is expected to significantly impact Apple’s platforms, potentially prompting major alterations to the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, Siri, and other services.
Despite Apple’s assertion that sideloading could compromise user privacy and security protections, the company must adhere to the DMA guidelines to avoid fines of up to 20 percent of its global revenue for violations.
In a December 2022 report, Gurman suggested that Apple was contemplating implementing security measures like verification, which could be subject to a fee instead of relying on revenue from app sales. Notably, Apple already employs a verification system on Mac to ensure user safety while granting access to apps outside the Mac App Store.
If other countries enact similar legislation, the availability of alternate app stores could potentially extend beyond the European Union. For instance, the United States is contemplating legislation that would mandate Apple to permit sideloading.