Report: Apple to Allow Sideloading and Third-Party App Stores on iPhone

BY Sriansh

Published 14 Dec 2022

iPhone 14 Pro LI Features iOS 16.2

Apple is reportedly working on changes to iOS that would allow users to access third-party app stores and sideload apps onto their iPhones. The move reportedly comes in response to regulations from the EU, and could be implemented as early as 2023 — or with the release of iOS 17. This marks a major shift from Apple’s previous stance that third-party app stores and sideloading apps posed security and privacy risks for iPhone owners.

The potential changes were first reported by Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. The report claims that the Cupertino giant is looking for methods to limit users’ exposure to potentially malicious apps, and is discussing the possibility of requiring outside apps to be “verified” by the company with specific security requirements.

This approach would be similar to the situation on macOS, wherein users can install any app they want but must go through additional steps to install apps that Apple hasn’t verified. The changes are said to be part of Apple’s response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to increase competition and innovation in the digital marketplace.

Apple Also Considering to Open Up More Third-Party APIs

In addition to allowing third-party app stores and sideloading, Apple is also said to be planning to open up certain features via APIs to third-party developers, some of which were only available to the company. For example, NFC payments — which are only possible by Apple Pay right now — would be possible for third-party apps. Similarly, Apple could open up more camera-related API to third-party apps.

However, Apple is reportedly not embracing all of the changes called for by the EU’s Digital Markets Act. Regulators have also urged interoperability between messaging systems, but Apple fears that such changes could compromise the end-to-end encryption and other privacy and security features of iMessage. As of yet, the company has not decided how to approach the requirement.

The said changes will reportedly only impact users in Europe, and not North America or other regions unaffected by the EU regulations. This would mark a departure for Apple, which has typically offered the same features and experience across all of its operating systems and devices. It remains to be seen whether and how Apple will implement the changes.

Source: Bloomberg