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Sideloading apps in iOS 17 probably won’t work in the US

Published Apr 21st, 2023 5:30PM EDT
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Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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In response to the EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA), iOS 17 will finally allow iPhone users to sideload apps and use third-party app stores. While such a move would have seemed improbable just a few years ago, the DMA mandates that all large online platforms must “allow third parties to inter-operate with the gatekeeper’s own services in certain specific situations.” Apple certainly tried its hardest to fight some of the provisions in the DMA. But ultimately, lawmakers didn’t find Apple’s concerns regarding privacy and security persuasive enough. Suffice it to say, some iPhone users are less than thrilled.

The DMA will go into effect in 2024. And in recent months, Apple has reportedly been “applying a significant amount of resources” to ensure that iOS 17 will be in compliance by the time it ships later this year. That said, not all iPhone users will be able to take advantage of sideloading.

During a recent appearance on the MacRumors podcast, Mark Gurman relayed that sideloading will likely remain a feature only accessible in Europe.

I think it will be a Europe-only feature. I think they’re not going to shoot themselves in the foot and expand this globally if they don’t have to.

If you remember, there was that change in the Netherlands around dating apps and the percentage there. And so you have to install a special profile, you have to go through some sort of hoops to do it, and it was very under the radar.

What’s more, there’s a good chance developers who want to take advantage of sideloading might have to pay a fee. Put differently; Apple will figure out a way to get a slice of revenue even if sideloading is enabled. We previously touched on how sideloading might work on iOS 17 over here.

The podcast is viewable in its entirety below:

Interestingly, Gurman adds that Apple isn’t planning to address sideloading at WWDC. This, of course, shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. While you can force Apple to enable sideloading, it certainly won’t go out of its way to highlight it.

Some other things to look forward to at WWDC include a significant overhaul of the watchOS interface. And though nothing is set in stone, we’ll hopefully get some sort of announcement about Apple’s mythical AR/VR headset.

Apple’s WWDC keynote will kick off on June 5.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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