Apple Is Working On Opening iPhones To Sideloading & Third-Party App Stores

Apple could allow people to sideload apps and install them via third-party stores if a new report is accurate.

Writing for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman says that Apple is working on opening iPhones up to allow for third-party stores in response to strict European Union requirements that will come into effect in 2024.

The move would be a big reversal of Apple’s existing rules which prevent any app from being installed outside of the App Store, locking users in to its payment system and ensuring that developers hand over 30% of the cost of apps and in-app purchases. It’s that which has the EU keen to change things, leveling the playing field and ensuring that developers and other companies are on a level footing with Apple.

Gurman says that Apple is currently only planning to make the changes in Europe however, with iPhones sold in other parts of the world remaining locked to the App Store. But that could well change.

If similar laws are passed in additional countries, Apple’s project could lay the groundwork for other regions, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the work is private. But the company’s changes are designed initially to just go into effect in Europe.

Apple reportedly has engineers working to unpick the App Store right now, opening the door to transactions that wouldn’t go via its in-app purchase system. A timeline for this isn’t clear, but the EU’s 2024 target looms large.

Apple has long said that allowing apps to be sideloaded onto iPhones would open the door to scam apps and reduce user security. However, App Store review has had its fair share of problems in recent years with some apps still finding their way into the store and causing problems for users. Abuse of the in-app purchase system is also rife, with some apps charging huge sums of money on a weekly bases — often for apps that do nothing.

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