Sideloading is coming to iOS users in the EU in H1 2024

Image Source: Apple

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote for Power On newsletter subscribers yesterday that in the coming year, iOS users in the EU will have the capability to download apps from sources beyond Apple’s official App Store, aligning with regulatory requirements in Europe.

Referred to as sideloading, the upcoming “highly controlled system” expected in the first half of 2024 will enable users to download apps without relying on the App Store. Consequently, developers will be exempt from paying Apple’s 15 to 30 percent fees.

Gurman also reported that there will be changes to Messages and payment apps, possibly through a region-specific update in iOS 17.

Implemented on November 1, 2022, the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) mandates “gatekeeper” entities to facilitate access to their services and platforms for other companies and developers. This legislation is poised to significantly influence Apple’s platforms, potentially prompting substantial changes to its such products as the App Store, Messages, and FaceTime. 

Apple has been trying to explain for a very long time how allowing sideloading would expose iOS users to security risks. The tech giant released a report in June 2021 saying that “Sideloading would expose users to scammers who will exploit apps to mislead users, attack iPhone security features, and violate user privacy.” In a June 2023 report, Craig Federighi, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, said that Apple is working with the European Union to discuss the compliance.

Gurman’s latest update contradicts a recent report implying that sideloading might be included in Apple’s iOS 17.2 software update, anticipated for release next month. The report mistakenly associated certain new code with sideloading, when in fact, it pertains to an upcoming framework designed for organizations to distribute apps to their employees.

Written by Sophie Blake


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