Apple isn’t incentivized to bring sideloading to all iPhone users. Instead, sideloading will likely be a Europe-only feature when iOS 17 launches in the fall.
- When Apple enables app sideloading, it will be initially unavailable in the US.
- Only iPhones sold within the European Union will have access to the feature.
- Apple must comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act by March 2024.
Sideloading will be a Europe-only feature
In the latest episode of the MacRumors podcast, Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman discussed current topics like Apple’s scattershot approach to pitching the rumored AR/VR headset, iOS 17 and sideloading. According to Gurman, sideloading of apps will be strictly limited to countries and regions that have laws requiring it.
“I think it will be a Europe-only feature,” Gurman speculated. “I think that they’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot and expand this globally if they don’t have to.” He previously reported that Apple will be making changes in iOS 17 to support sideloading and alternative app stores.
Currently, only the European Union has passed legislation requiring technology companies that sell their products within the EU to let customers opt to install apps from websites and alternative app stores other than the App Store.
In other words, Apple will limit sideloading to Europe until forced by law to enable the feature in other countries. The Cupertino company is not going to do “anything extraneous that would further hurt their grip on the App Store,” Gurman said. “They’re really going to stick to the letter of the law here.”
Alternative app stores in iOS 17
Furthermore, Gurman believes Apple could even charge developers to be part of sideloading by leveraging configuration profiles.
iOS 17 is said to enable sideloading and third-party app stores for the first time since the iPhone’s inception in 2007, as platform providers must comply with the EU’s mandate by March 2024. The sweeping DMA forces technology companies like Apple and Google to permit users to opt for alternative sources of apps.
“We expect the consequences to be significant,” according to Gerard de Graaf, who’s helped pass the DMA. “If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not just from the App Store but from other app stores or from the internet.”