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Hell freezes over: Apple allegedly working on app sideloading for iPhones

If this happens, it would change iOS forever.
By
December 13, 2022
apple iphone 14 plus back standing 2
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Bloomberg report suggests Apple is working on allowing for iPhone app sideloading.
  • This would be a direct response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which is set to go into effect next year.
  • Allegedly, Apple is also working on changes to iMessage, NFC access, and more.

One of the definitive differences between Android and iOS is the former’s ability to sideload applications. “Sideloading” is when you install applications from outside the officially sanctioned source, which in the case of Android is the Google Play Store. iPhone users have never had the ability to sideload apps — at least not without some effort to circumvent Apple’s “walled garden.”

It looks like this differentiator might not stand for much longer. According to prominent (and frequently correct) Apple analyst/leaker Mark Gurman (via Bloomberg), Apple could be working on allowing for iPhone app sideloading. If true, this would allow iPhone users to install any app they want, not just the ones that appear on the official App Store. It also would allow developers to skip giving Apple a 30% cut of their app profits.

While this would be massive and groundbreaking if it happens, it isn’t totally surprising. The EU’s Digital Markets Act is set to go into effect next year, and it would pretty much force Apple to offer iPhone app sideloading — or, at the very least, third-party app stores.

According to Gurman, Apple is working on this only for the EU, at least for now. Since the United States and other countries don’t have anything like the Digital Markets Act, Apple is not under any obligation to offer sideloading in those areas. This would make owning an iPhone in the EU a decidedly different experience when compared to the rest of the world. However, it seems Apple might think that’s a fine trade-off if it means milking the App Store’s profits for as long as possible.

Allegedly, Apple is also considering making big changes to iMessage, Find My, NFC access, and more in response to the Digital Markets Act.