Apple in iOS 17 will for the first time allow iPhone users to download apps hosted outside of its official App Store, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman.
Otherwise known as sideloading, the change would allow customers to download apps without needing to use the App Store, which would mean developers wouldn’t need to pay Apple’s 15 to 30 percent fees.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which went into effect on November 1, 2022, requires “gatekeeper” companies to open up their services and platforms to other companies and developers.
The DMA will have a big impact on Apple’s platforms, and it could result in Apple making major changes to the App Store, Messages, FaceTime, Siri, and more. Apple is planning to implement sideloading support to comply with the new European regulations by next year, according to Gurman.
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 issues. However, Apple must comply with the DMA or it risks fines of as much as 20 percent of its global revenue if the EU laws are violated.
In a December 2022 report Gurman said Apple was considering implementing security requirements such as verification, a process that it could charge a fee for in lieu of collecting money from app sales. Apple has a verification system on Mac that allows users to be safe while giving them access to apps outside of the Mac App Store.
If other countries introduce similar legislation, alternate app stores could expand beyond the European Union. The United States, for example, is considering legislation that would require Apple to allow sideloading.