Apple is reportedly preparing to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone
Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports Apple will respond to upcoming EU rules with next year’s iOS 17 update. But it could still have strings attached, like only being available in Europe or only allowing installation of approved apps.
Apple is planning to let users install alternative app stores on iOS, according to a report from Bloomberg. The shift would be a remarkable change from the company, which has famously only allowed iPhone and iPad users to download apps from the App Store.
The plans are reportedly being spurred on by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is meant to enact “rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets” when its restrictions become a requirement in 2024, according to a press release.
The law means that Apple will not only have to allow third-party app stores but sideloading as well, where users can install software downloaded from the web. Apple executives have previously called the ability to sideload software “a cybercriminal’s best friend” in response to the act.
The EU has laid out a relatively complex schedule for complying with the law, which involves companies potentially affected by it notifying regulators and a commission determining whether they’ll actually have to make changes.
In its press release, however, the EU says the latest date gatekeeper companies will have to comply with the act is March 6th, 2024.
Apple may still keep some hands on the reins. The company is apparently considering “mandating certain security requirements,” verifying outside apps in some way, and potentially charging a fee, Bloomberg reports.
Apple hasn’t decided whether it will let developers install third-party payment systems in apps, which it is supposed to do under the DMA, Bloomberg says. It also hasn’t decided how it will make iMessage interoperable with other services, another condition of the DMA, and could open up its Find My network to more location accessories like Tile.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple is currently working on another massive change spurred on by EU regulations — the company has confirmed it can’t get around EU rules forcing the addition of USB-C to the iPhone by 2024.
JAY PETERS and MITCHELL CLARK