What does this mean for you?

Key Takeaways

  • Apple is expected to enable sideloading on iPhone in the EU by 2024, allowing users to download apps from outside the App Store and potentially save money by bypassing the Apple Tax.
  • The iOS 17.2 update could contain the necessary changes to enable sideloading in select EU countries, but it’s unlikely that Apple will roll this out to other countries.
  • Sideloading could change the way users interact with iOS and built-in applications, but Apple may still have some control over what is accessible and may require developers to verify their software.

Apple is set to enable sideloading on iPhone as early as 2024, enabling millions of users in the EU to download games and apps from outside of the official App Store. This would mark the first time users would be allowed to do such a thing on iOS, and it could help developers save money as they could circumvent the Apple Tax that requires them to share 15% to 30% of their fees and in-app purchases with Apple.

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According to the latest Power On (via MacRumors) newsletter, Mark Gurman claims that Apple could introduce a new “highly controller system” to let EU users install applications outside the App Store. Apple will also reportedly change Messages and payment applications as part of an upcoming update.

But how will this work, you might ask. The latest reports claim that the new iOS 17.2 update could bring the necessary changes to enable Apple to flip the switch, despite the new EU law coming into action next year. The iOS 17.2 update could contain the code required to allow sideloading in select EU countries. At this time, it’s unlikely that Apple would ever want to willingly roll this out to other countries for the reasons mentioned below.

Another European law has already come into effect called the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which forces companies as “gatekeepers” to open up their services and platforms to other parties.

What is sideloading?

Source: Pocketnow

Sideloading is a term used to describe the process of downloading and installing applications outside of the official Application Stores, or in this case, the App Store and Google Play Store on iOS and Android. Apple has never allowed sideloading third-party applications, whereas Android has allowed it for over a decade, enabling users to install apps, games, and various other tools, bypassing the official application store.

Apple has previously claimed that sideloading could hurt the integrity and safety of its users by undermining the privacy and security protections already in place. Apple argues that enabling sideloading could help bad actors spread malware, scams, track data, and other malicious activities and tools more easily.

The ability to sideload could bring significant changes to the way we think about iOS, and it could change the way we interact with most of the existing and built-in applications. DMA is already changing most of the key aspects and built-in apps on iOS, such as Messages, FaceTime, App Store, Siri, and even more.

What does this mean for you?

What this news means is that users in the European Union will be able to sideload applications, circumventing the Apple App Store. Users will be able to download and possibly install applications without using the App Store, enabling them to download games, and apps.

Now, it’s not clear how exactly this will work in practice, and there’s a possibility Apple will apply a similar technique it uses on Mac, which still requires developers to verify their software, which could require them to share some revenue with Apple. This would allow anyone to share their apps, and there’s a chance Apple could still have some control and a say over what is accessible and what isn’t.

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