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14 Nov, 2023
1 min time to read

In the first half of 2024, iPhone users in the European Union will have the option to download apps from sources outside of Apple's official App Store, in accordance with EU regulations.

This move, known as sideloading, will enable users to get apps without relying on the App Store, freeing developers from Apple's 15 to 30 percent fees.

According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, Apple plans to implement a "highly controlled system" that allows EU users to install apps from external sources. Additionally, Apple is expected to make adjustments to Messages and payment apps, potentially through a localized update in iOS 17.

This development follows the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which became effective on November 1, 2022. The DMA mandates that "gatekeeper" companies open their platforms to other developers and businesses. As a result, Apple is likely to make significant change to various aspects of its ecosystem, including the App Store, FaceTime, Siri, and more.

Apple has expressed concerns that sideloading could compromise user privacy and security. However, it must comply with the DMA or risk facing fines up to 20 percent of its global revenue if EU regulations are violated.

As part of its compliance efforts, Apple may introduce security measures such as verification, potentially charging fees as an alternative to App Store commissions. This approach aligns with Apple's existing verification system on macOS, which ensures user safety while permitting app installations from sources outside the Mac App Store.

If other countries enact similar legislation, it could lead to the expansion of alternate app stores beyond the European Union. For instance, the United States is considering regulations that would compel Apple to permit sideloading, potentially reshaping the app distribution landscape.