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Report: Apple plans to support sideloading and third-party app stores by 2024

Europe’s Digital Markets Act was the catalyst.



Enlarge / Apple HQ in Cupertino, California. (credit: Anadolu Agency | Financial Times)

Employees across Apple are working on changes to iOS that would open the iPhone to apps outside Apple’s App Store, a report in Bloomberg claims. Citing people familiar with the efforts, the article claims that Apple is attempting to take action by 2024, in response to regulations from the European Union, such as the Digital Markets Act. In fact, the changes could go wide as soon as the release of iOS 17 late next year.

This would mark a dramatic shift from Apple’s long-standing position that third-party app stores and sideloading apps from outside the App Store would pose security and privacy risks for iPhone owners. However, Apple is exploring ways to limit users’ exposure to potentially malicious apps. For example, the company is discussing the possibility of still requiring outside apps to be “verified” by Apple, with specific security requirements.

Some version of that approach might look something like the situation on the Mac, where you can install any app you want, but you have to jump through some hoops to install something that Apple hasn’t verified.

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