Recent European regulations deem it required that Apple enables EU iPhone users the ability to sideload apps.
Starting in early 2024, Apple must comply with the new regulations, enabling EU users the ability to download and install apps outside of the App Store. At an early glance, it’s assumed developers will soon be able to bypass Apple’s 15 or 30 percent App Store fees.
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who first cracked the story, claims that Apple is introducing a “highly controlled system” designed to enable EU users to sideload content. Gurman also suggests that a localized iOS 17 update will make changes to the Messages app and payments.
The regulations are a part of the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which was introduced on November 1st, 2022. The new policies make it mandatory for service and platform providers to open themselves to other companies. This aims to alleviate some of the “gatekeeping” and anti-competitive policies Apple is accused of supporting. While the DMA was introduced over a year ago, Apple and other companies aren’t required to oblige until 2024.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has long argued that sideloading may open up vulnerabilities to “data-hungry companies.” If not introduced safely, Sideloading could open new possibilities for malware and other harm to user’s data. However, similar to the EU forcing Apple’s hand and forcing the adoption of USB-C on the iPhone, Apple has no choice in this matter. If the company does not comply with the EU’s regulation, it could face fines of as much as 20 percent of its global revenue.
Earlier reports claim that Apple may circumvent some of the lost App Store fees by introducing new security requirements for the developer. This would require Apple to verify apps existing outside of the App Store. Unsurprisingly, there may be an associated fee attached.
As of the time of writing, there is no word on sideloading coming to Canada, the U.S., or other global markets. That being said, much like the USB-C on iPhone matter, this may open the floodgates for other markets. The U.S. is already considering forcing Apple to introduce sideloading. A successful launch in the EU may add further pressure on the Cupertino company.
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