Is Apple About To Let You Sideload Apps on iOS?

Is Apple About To Let You Sideload Apps on iOS?

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: November 14, 2023

Sideloading is the process of installing apps from third-party sources — and Apple users may soon enjoy this feature.

With constant pressure from the EU through the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the iPhone maker is reportedly considering enabling users to sideload apps in its upcoming iOS 17.2 update. 

The developments were first reported by 9to5Mac, which spotted evidence of the new feature in the 1OS 17.2 beta code. 

Eventually, the company revealed that a new "Managed App Distribution" framework will come with the upcoming iOS update. 

Initially considered a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, the API will allow third-party apps to create their own app stores.

It will control downloading, installing and updating apps from external sources, akin to Apple's official App Store.

Notably, a region lock hints at potential restrictions to specific countries, serving the purpose of enabling sideloading when required by authorities, like in the EU.

This development extends beyond MDM solutions, offering developers new avenues for app distribution.

What Is the Digital Markets Act? 

The EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) aims to regulate major online platforms, addressing issues of anticompetitive behavior and ensuring fair competition in the digital market.

It empowers regulators to designate "gatekeeper" platforms and imposes specific obligations, such as prohibiting unfair practices, ensuring data interoperability and facilitating user choice.

The DMA seeks to create a more level playing field for businesses and enhance consumer rights in the digital ecosystem.

One of its requirements includes allowing users to install apps of their liking from third-party sources.

Thus, the tech giant must adhere to DMA rules by March 2024, as acknowledged in a Form 10-K filing where the company anticipates modifications affecting the App Store's business model.

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