After much resistance, debate, and counter-arguments against it, Apple’s iOS 17 will finally allow the sideloading of apps, but just as with everything else that large corporations do, terms and conditions apply. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurnman, who is known for his expertise and insider knowledge of all things tech, revealed in his Power On newsletter that Apple was going to give in to the EU regulations and finally allow third-party app stores to bring their services to Apple devices. Apple’s resistance to sideloading crumbled under EU regulations as the company had no choices left if it wanted to continue selling devices to the European market. As expected, however, the Apple sideloading iOS 17 update will not be available globally. Apple has proposed an App Store split that will ensure that the only region where the iOS 17 sideloading will apply is the region where the European Commission’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) applies.
Apple iOS 17 Sideloading To Become A Reality
What does the Apple iOS 17 sideloading update mean? Due to the monopoly Apple maintains on its App Store, apps that want to enter the iOS market are forced to pay Apple and use its payment systems in order to stay in the market. Any attempts by third-party app stores to enter the device’s ecosystem and bring their own host of apps also don’t reap any results due to Apple’s restrictions. Many have called these practices anti-competitive, discouraging innovation from those unwilling or incapable of paying the App Store fees. In order to prevent such gatekeeping, the European Union has been setting regulations to open up the market and standardize certain elements in order to make it a fair space for all players.
Apple sideloading on iOS 17 will arrive with an upcoming software update and considering 7 March is the deadline for meeting the EU regulations, it won’t be too long before we see the update. Apple has been resistant to third-party app stores and they state it because allowing such unverified, unregulated apps to enter their Apple devices would increase the device’s vulnerability to outside threats. While Apple might just be right about the security threats, there are likely a variety of apps on the store already that have bypassed security measures one way or another and might be harmful to your iOS devices. Apple obviously disagrees with this assessment and has been doing its fair share to avoid this very problem and to maintain App Store security.
“Apple rooted out 428,000 developer accounts and 282 million customer accounts for fraud and abuse last year (2022),” according to a press release by the company last year. They stated that they had prevented over $2 billion in potentially fraudulent transactions and they had also rejected 1.7 million app submissions that failed to meet the privacy, security, and content standards of the App Store. We have no way to verify the veracity of these claims and no reason to doubt it either, but considering the threats can come from everywhere once the sideloading support goes through, it might be a good time for a refresher on the security measures for the App Store.
Apple’s sideloading submission to the EU demands will not lead to global changes the way Apple gave in to changing the lighting port to the more typical USB-C port on its entire iPhone 15 lineup across the globe. Apple is going to look into an App Store split strategy that will have one version of the App Store available in all regions affected by the DMA, while the rest of Apple devices will have the same version of the App Store we see right now—one that does not support the iOS 17 sideloading feature or receives Apple’s permission for third-party app stores.
Until other countries also bring in similar regulations, Apple is going to continue its resistance to third-party app stores and iOS 17 sideloading solutions till their last breath. We get it, the monopoly does pay the bills, but considering how well the company seems to be doing, recently surpassing Samsung as the world’s biggest phone maker, you would think they’d no longer have to hold on to the App Store quite so tightly. Still, if not immediately it is likely we’ll see other countries following suit and Apple’s sideloading battle with the EU might eventually become a global phenomenon.