Apple intends to allow iPhone users to install third-party app stores. The company, which is infamous for allowing only iPhone and iPad users to download programs from the App Store, would make a dramatic move with the update if this type of thing takes place.
According to Mark Gurman from Bloomberg, Apple is expected to respond to the upcoming EU rules with the release of iOS 17 next year. However, it is possible that the update may come with some limitations, such as only being available in Europe or only allowing the installation of approved apps.
Third-party app stores on the iPhone might not be a dream after all
The EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is intended to provide “rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets” when its limits become necessary in 2024, is said to be the impetus behind the plans. This spring we discussed how 2023 could be the time for revolutionary big tech regulation in EU.
Changes would also come to NFC chip and camera access, Find My network for rivals to the AirTag, web browsing engines and other areas of Apple’s software. The company still plans to charge developers for access to iOS even with side loading.
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) December 13, 2022
According to the law, Apple must provide sideloading, which lets customers install web-based software, in addition to third-party app stores. The ability to sideload software has previously been referred to by Apple executives as “a cybercriminal’s best friend.”
The EU has established a somewhat complicated timeline for enforcing the rule, which includes corporations that may be impacted informing authorities and a commission deciding whether they will actually need to make adjustments.
However, according to the EU’s press release, gatekeeper corporations must abide by the law no later than March 6th, 2024.
Apple may still retain some control over the situation. According to Bloomberg, the business is reportedly considering “mandating certain security requirements,” some form of external app verification, and maybe levying a fee. Apple has not made up its mind regarding whether or not it will permit developers to incorporate third-party payment methods into their apps, as required by the DMA, Bloomberg reports. Another requirement of the DMA is that iMessage be interoperable with other services. It also hasn’t decided how to do this, and it might let more location-based devices like Tile use its Find My network.
Apple has stated it cannot circumvent EU legislation requiring the inclusion of USB-C to the iPhone by 2024, which is why the company is currently working on another significant upgrade driven by EU regulations.
Apple has pushed against sideloading time and time again, claiming it poses a security and privacy concern. According to Gurman, the business is debating whether to impose specific security standards on applications released outside the App Store. He speculates that these apps “may need to be verified by Apple — a process that could carry a fee.”
The Digital Markets Act has the potential to bring about other significant changes to iOS. Apple might allow third-party developers access to key APIs and capabilities, including those that govern the iPhone’s NFC and camera systems. Historically, the iPhone’s NFC chip has only been accessible through the company’s Wallet app and Apple Pay service. Additionally, the business is debating whether to abandon its long-standing demand that third-party browsers utilize its WebKit technology. Additionally, Apple might give rivals like Tile more access to its Find My Network.
However, it seems there are other golden gooses the tech giant may be far less willing to part with. In particular, Gurman claims that iMessage RCS integration is not currently on the table. For years, Google has promoted the messaging standard, even publicly criti Apple for not using it. It’s difficult to predict if Apple will agree to the same terms in the US. Gurman points out that the work the company is doing may “lay the groundwork” for developments of a similar nature in other areas. The Open App Markets Act, the equivalent of the Digital Markets Act being considered by American legislators, has not yet been approved.