Apple may enable sideloading functionality on iOS next year

Although Apple did not incorporate the sideloading feature in its iOS 17 update, which would allow users to effortlessly download and install third-party apps not listed on the App Store, the company might open up this functionality in the first half of next year to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

In previous statements, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, indicated that Apple might eventually concede to the EU regulators by integrating the sideloading of third-party software into its operating system. However, Apple has not yet released any details regarding this feature, nor has it explained how the operating system’s design will be adjusted to meet the EU’s regulations.

According to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, Apple plans to allow users in the EU to install third-party apps not listed on the App Store through a highly controlled design. In conjunction with these operating system adjustments, Apple also plans to revise its app payment methods. This update might be released alongside the expected launch of iOS 18 next year.

Besides the EU, there is also potential legislative action in the United States to require Apple to open up sideloading features, preventing the company from monopolizing the market through the App Store. This situation could lead to more countries making similar demands, necessitating adjustments to Apple’s existing App Store business model.

Until now, Apple has opposed the use of third-party apps through sideloading due to the potential for greater privacy and security risks, emphasizing the strict App Store review policies to ensure user safety. However, despite Apple’s concerns that opening up sideloading installations could increase security risks, the company appears compelled to make this change under EU regulations, lest it faces a fine of up to 20% of its global revenue. If Apple allows users to install third-party apps through sideloading, it might lose a significant amount of revenue from platform service fees or profit sharing. Therefore, Apple might still be contemplating other strategies to ensure profitability.