Apple’s Inevitable Shift to Side Loading in iOS 17

Barring unforeseen circumstances, Apple’s most notable change in iOS 17, set to be announced at WWDC 2023, is anticipated to be the integration of side loading, allowing apps from non-App Store marketplaces to be installed, in response to European Union demands. This means users will soon have the option to download and install a wider range of third-party apps, either from third-party marketplaces or directly via download.

Previously, Apple resisted the inclusion of third-party apps via side loading, citing increased privacy and security concerns. They have consistently advocated for the strict app submission and review policies of the App Store as the key to ensuring user safety.

iOS 17 support

Although Google also advises against side-loading third-party apps and emphasizes the security of apps on the Google Play Store, it provides an option in the Android operating system that allows users to manually install third-party apps, adding an element of ‘flexibility’ not seen in Apple’s stance.

However, under the Digital Markets Act of the European Union, Apple’s iOS 17 may deviate significantly from its historical policies by allowing third-party applications to be used via side loading or obtained from third-party software markets. It remains unclear whether this will be confined to the EU region, or if a similar policy will be rolled out globally. There may also be additional costs incurred by developers to ‘unlock’ this usage model.

For Apple, this adjustment seems an inevitable alteration; refusal to comply could result in fines amounting to 20% of their global revenue by the EU. However, enabling users to install third-party apps via side loading may cause Apple to forfeit a significant portion of platform service fees and revenue sharing. Consequently, Apple may still be devising strategies to ensure profitability under the new paradigm.