Apple has never allowed users to install apps outside of its App Store and the CEO of Apple also once said that allowing side-loading apps on iOS would break the security of iPhones. However, it seems like Apple has been forced to change its mind, as reports online suggest that the company will allow users to side-load third-party apps on iOS beginning with iOS 17.
As per Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has been a reliable source of Apple related leaks, the brand could allow side-loading third party apps starting with iOS 17. However, there’s a catch here. The ability to side-load apps on iOS 17 could be limited to Europe only, due to the country’s law.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act directs companies to allow third-party app installations, which is likely why Apple is going to allow the same on its iPhones. While companies have until March 2024 to comply with the rules, Apple is expected to roll out this feature this year itself in Europe due to the EU’s rigid requirement.
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This would also be dealing a big blow to Apple as developers, theoretically, would now be able to bypass the 15% to 30% fees the company currently charges for in-app transactions and purchasable apps on App Store for the first year. Gurman further says that Apple plans to remove all its restrictions against side-loading apps by 2024, with iOS 17 being the first step in the direction.
While the move may not be favourable for Apple, it would attract more developers to make apps for iOS who currently make apps only on Android. Moreover, this would bring a tough competition for Google as well, who has been allowing side-loading of apps on its software since the beginning. It would also be interesting to see how Apple will deal with the security and privacy threats that come along with side-loading of third-party apps.