Apple to allow third-party app stores on iPhone next year

This change could mark the end of the road for Apple App Store-only apps for the iPhone monopoly.

Highlights
  • Apple will have to allow third-party app stores and side-loading software from the web starting next year. 
  • This is in response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) rules to end unfair practices by companies that act as gatekeepers in the online platform economy. 
  • If the company doesn’t follow the law, regulators will impose penalties and fines of up to 10 percent of its worldwide turnover and increase it up to 20 percent on repetition.

Apple is reportedly planning to change how you install apps on your iPhone by next year. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the Cupertino giant will open its iOS for iPhone and iPad users to download apps through third-party app stores and websites. Since the beginning, Apple has never allowed side-loading apps on its devices like you could do on Android via APKs. The company’s shift in the decision to allow third-party app stores would be the most remarkable change to come on iOS. 

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Per the report, this plan is being spurred on by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets. The new Regulation aims to end unfair practices by companies that act as gatekeepers in the online platform economy, says the press release. It means Apple will have to allow third-party app stores and side-loading software from the web. Previously, Apple’s executives had responded to the act and said: “Sideloading is a cyber criminal’s best friend,” while delivering a speech at Web Summit 2021.

iOS 17 could allow sideloading apps on iPhone

According to Gurman, Apple will have to allow access to the NFC chip, camera access, Find My network for rivals to the AirTag, new web browsing engines on its devices, and other areas of Apple’s software. Although the companies have until 2024 to fully comply with the Digital Markets Act, these updates will probably come to iOS 17 in 2023. He also mentions that Apple will charge developers for access to iOS even with side loading.

Suppose Apple does not act following the law: In that case, regulators will impose penalties and fines of up to 10 percent of the company’s worldwide turnover and increase it up to 20 percent on repetition. That said, note that these changes are only meant to take place in 27 countries of the European Union. The law will come into force on January 1st, 2024.