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Report: iOS 17 May Only Allow Users to Sideload Apps in Europe

Posted April 24, 2023 | App Store | Apple | iOS | iOS 17 | Mobile | Windows

iOS 17, the next major update for the iPhone operating system will reportedly allow users to sideload apps and use third-party app stores. This will be the result of Apple needing to comply with the EU’s Digital Market Act, which will require large online platforms to give users more choices and ensure a fairer business environment.

If Android already supports sideloading and third-party app stores, Apple has been using the security argument to justify its iOS walled garden. The App Store monopoly also allows Apple to take a 30% cut on all transactions, which is something that companies like Epic Games and Spotify have been fighting for years.

If lots of developers and iPhone users are likely waiting for Apple to finally allow app sideloading and third-party app stores, the change may well only apply in Europe where the Digital Markets Act will be enforced. Speaking on the MacRumors podcast (via 9to5Mac), Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman explained that it’s pretty much in Apple’s best interest to make the feature Europe-only and not communicate broadly about it.

“I think it will be a Europe-only feature. I think that they’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot and expand this globally if they don’t have to,” Gurman said in the podcast.

The reporter also made a reference to a recent App Store change regarding in-app purchases for dating apps that was only implemented in the Netherlands but not in other countries. The change was actually hard to discover for consumers, and that was likely on purpose.

“So I think they’re going to push more in that direction. I would be a bit surprised if they announced it at WWDC and made this a highlight consumer feature. I think they want to sort of downplay it as much as possible,” Gurman said.

Apple is expected to officially announce iOS 17 at its WWDC conference in June, and it will be interesting to see if Apple will highlight sideloading as a major new feature or bury the information in a slide. This year, new Europe laws regarding electronic waste will also push Apple to adopt USB-C on its upcoming iPhones. However, this change is expected to apply to all iPhone models, not only those that will be sold in Europe.

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