Monday, April 24, 2023

Sideloading Rumored for iOS 17

Ivan Mehta (MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Hacker News):

After vehemently fighting “sideloading” alternative app stores on the iPhone, Apple is now apparently looking to allow them with iOS 17, which will come out next year, to comply with European laws. The report from Bloomberg also noted that Apple is exploring opening up its camera and NFC (Near Field Communication) stack to developers.


Europe’s Digital Market Act (DMA) will come into effect next year, and companies will have until 2024 to comply. Under the new rules, Big Tech must allow alternative app stores on their platforms to provide users with more choice, and it’s likely that Apple is now preparing to comply.

Apple has already committed to supporting USB-C due to the EU’s push to standardize charging ports. Now, with the DMA on the horizon, this could force the Cupertino-based company to allow sideloading too.

Linda Rosencrance:

The question is what do app developers think about these new regulations? Will they actually be beneficial to EU based developers and what will be the short and long term impact on the EU’s app market? We spoke with a few to find out.


“Bug fixes can be released faster compared to when they’re released on the App Store,” he said. “Waiting up to 20 days for bug fixes is frustrating, especially when it’s out of my control and I can’t contact Apple about it,” Young said.

In addition, developers won’t have to pay the 15%-30% Apple tax any longer.

This last part is far from certain.

Macro Arment:

Apple will just use another method to collect their “commission”.


Remember: Tim Cook views our customers as THEIR customers, our sales as THEIR sales, and the 30% as what they rightfully deserve for gracing us with a platform that we provide no other value to.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

Alarm bells should be sounding at Apple over the kinds of developers who are fed-up-enough of the App Store to want to be on alternatives; Apple is at risk of the iOS App Store turning into the same kind of marketplace as the Mac App Store, bereft of many of the platform's top apps. As much as they might want to blame the EU or ‘lawmakers’, it was an entirely preventable series of toxic business decisions (and, lately, bridge burning) that lead to it.

Riley Testut:

How will Apple restrict sideloading? [poll]

Michael Love:

The bad news is that it’s seemingly only in the EU, the good news is that we’ll now have actual real-world proof that all of their FUD about sideloading is meaningless.

Or perhaps Apple will find business and technical ways to make it so unattractive that it won’t get enough traction to prove anything.


9 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Would they really restrict it to just the EU? Imagine the support calls:

"Well I went to Facebook and they said I load this .ipa file but then it said I am in invalid country WTF BBQ?? I am calling BBB FBI CIA DVD USB and complain Apple is fraud theft stealing bullshit company!!!!!!!!11111OMG LET ME ON FACEBOOK WHAT THE F-"

How would they even determine the country? Would UK be considered part of EU for this? So if I go see my sister in London, but take a train to Paris, only then I can sideload all the shit I want? Does it get erased once I take the train back to London or the flight back to Houston?

@Mike I assume it would be based on the billing address for your Apple ID account, or something, like they already do for App Store pricing/availability. So, no, you would not be able to visit Europe to get an app.

Let's how the Ohio ban on TikTok pans out. Lots of important lesson will be learned. Come to think of it, Apple have a lot of country specific app store knowledge from the Chinese market.

[…] his newsletter last week, Gurman claimed sideloading is still expected for the next version of iOS; Michael Tsai has a good roundup of related […]

One thing is for sure, if they allow sideloading there will be some new an innovative apps that would never be developed under the current regime because you couldn't put the investment in to build something that Apple might just unilaterally reject. Apps that compete with Apple or Apple’s apps, things that are just unusual or do out of the ordinary things for example.

I know that Apple is a fiscally creative company, but if there’s no App Store promotion/infrastructure to justify the remaining 27% once you remove billing, what would justify a fee to develop Store-free apps?

I’m just expecting that by design, Store-free apps will be much less elegant to install and update, coupled with a billion users’ habits about finding apps in the Store, and thus will be only viable for hobby apps, and businesses who got bit by App Store rejections.

Android’s process for installing Store-free apps hasn’t been designed with bitterness, yet it’s widely unused.

While I agree with this legal mandate in principle, I fear that large companies will move their apps out of Apple’s App Store and circumvent all of their customer-friendly guardrails on privacy, security, transparency, payments/refunds, etc. I don’t want one monopolist replaced by several others that are far more hostile towards end users.

@Michael Tsai: I'm American but also have a UK Apple ID account I used to buy a British TV at it's UK release. I used a random, real address and iTunes gift cards to fund it, bought from eBay and once in-person in London. So maybe possible with some hoops.

@Peter N Lewis: 100% agree

@Michael Tsai / (mainly Apple in general, no beef with you): So what happens when I travel to Paris for a day, borrow the address of a random store, sideload tons of shit, and then fly back to the US.

I would be fairly surprised if Apple genuinely hardcore locked down sideloading to a true geographic location.

That does not mean that they have to advertise, promote, or even acknowledge the capability in any region in any degree whatsoever.

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