According to Apple, iPhone users in the EU will be able to download apps hosted outside Apple’s official App Store next year to comply with European regulations. Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.
The change, known as sideloading, will allow customers to download apps without having to use the App Store sometime in the first half of 2024, meaning developers won’t have to pay Apple’s 15 to 30 percent fee.
Gurman wrote in the latest subscriber edition of his Power On newsletter that Apple will introduce a “highly controlled system” that will allow EU users to install apps hosted elsewhere. Apple will also reportedly tweak messaging and payment apps as part of the changes, likely via a localized iOS 17 update.
Gurman’s update contradicts a recent report that suggested sideloading could occur with Apple’s iOS 17.2 software update, which is expected to arrive next month. The report believed there was sideloading-related new code related to an upcoming framework for organizations to distribute apps to employees.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which came into effect on November 1, 2022, requires “gatekeeper” companies to open their services and platforms to other companies and developers.
The DMA will have a major impact on Apple’s platforms and could lead to Apple making major changes to the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, Siri, and more.
Apple has claimed that sideloading will “undermine the privacy and security protections” that iPhone users rely on, leaving people vulnerable to malware, scams, data tracking and other problems. Regardless of its position, Apple must comply with the DMA or face fines of up to 20 percent of global sales if EU laws are broken.
In a December 2022 report, Gurman said Apple is considering introducing security requirements such as authentication, a process for which it could charge a fee instead of collecting money from app sales. Apple has an authentication system on Mac that allows users to be secure while accessing apps outside the Mac App Store.
If other countries adopt similar legislation, alternative app stores could potentially expand outside the European Union. The United States, for example, is considering legislation that would require Apple to allow sideloading.