On the list of tech decisions I thought I would never see, Apple opening iOS in even the tiniest of ways is high up. Bloomberg reports the company is going to bring sideloading of apps to iPhones and iPads. An introduction could happen during Apple's upcoming WWDC event as part of the announcement for iOS 17.
Apple is notoriously strict about iOS, keeping the platform locked down almost entirely. Everything that users can do on iOS in terms of apps and customization comes from Apple services or resources approved by the company.
It is a stark contrast to the open nature of Android. In many ways, Apple's stance has benefits, such as tighter security.
Sideloading apps is the process of installing software from sources other than the authorized app store. This can give users more choice and flexibility in accessing apps that are not available or approved by Apple. Sideloading apps is also a common practice among Android users, who can download apps from various third-party stores and websites.
Apple is now reportedly tweaking iOS to allow sideloading. This would mean users will be able to get apps from other sources other than the App Store. For example, they could install an app from their PC to their iPhone or iPad.
Apple Under Pressure to Make Changes
The move comes as part of Apple's response to the regulatory pressure from the European Union, which is set to enforce its Digital Market Act (DMA) in 2024. The DMA aims to prevent big tech companies from abusing their dominant position and ensure fair competition in the digital market. One of the provisions of the DMA is that platform operators must allow alternative app stores on their devices, giving developers and users more options.
Even though it seems Apple is being forced into this change, I will be amazed if it actually happens. I just cannot imagine the company ceding control so tamely. Apple has always been against sideloading, citing security and privacy concerns.
By allowing sideloading apps on iPhones, Apple could potentially appease some of its critics and regulators, while also giving users more freedom and control over their devices. However, sideloading also comes with some risks and challenges, such as exposing users to malicious or low-quality apps, violating intellectual property rights, and undermining Apple's revenue stream.
It will be very interesting to see how Apple presents this feature on iOS. I suspect we won't be getting true sideloading capabilities.
Tip of the day: Windows now has a package manager similar to Linux called “Winget”. In our tutorial, we show you how to install and use this new tool that allows the quick installation of apps via PowerShell or a GUI.