Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, writing in his Power On newsletter, is reporting that iPhone users in the EU will have the ability to download and install apps from sources outside of Apple’s App Store starting from the first half of 2024.
This change is being made by Apple in order to comply with the new Digital Markets Act (DMA) issued by the European Union which went into effect on 1st November 2022. The requirements of this state that “gatekeeper” companies such as Apple must open up their services and platforms to other companies and developers.
The process, known as sideloading, allows for users to install apps to their devices that have either been downloaded directly from a website or developer as you would on a PC or Mac, or from a third-party app store such as Amazon’s Appstore, which originally launched for Android back in 2011.
Apple has historically always been against users being able to sideload apps, having published a document titled “Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps” which goes into detail on why the control it has over the App Store is a good thing, and that it believes that third-party app stores and sideloading is a security risk.
The deadline for compliance with the EU’s DMA is 6th March 2024, so the expectation would be that Apple makes these changes prior to this date. Microsoft has already made changes to Windows 11 to allow third-party app store integration, and Android has historically always supported sideloading.
Apple’s fees for developers distributing via the App Store have always been controversial, often leading to subscription prices being higher on iOS for this very reason. It isn’t known exactly how Apple will manage the process of sideloading, however, the update to introduce this will include a “highly controlled system.”
Via: Computer World, The Verge