Apple may allow app sideloading and 3rd party app stores in 2024

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Apple has always been known for having a closed ecosystem. The company’s walled garden has been criticized and praised for years. On the one hand, keeping control of the platform and not allowing any modification by 3rd parties keeps things tightly secure. On the other hand, this leaves users with limited choices. So it’s surprising to hear a report that Apple may allow app sideloading and 3rd party app stores come 2024.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In case you’re unfamiliar, app sideloading can be done on Android now. It does require you to turn off some security features, but it is possible. App sideloading is when a user downloads an app from the web or non-app store source and installs it on their device. This can be done using 3rd party app stores as well. Android has a few 3rd party app store options, such as F-Droid and the Aurora Store.

Apple’s case against 3rd party app stores and app sideloading has always been one of security for its users. While not perfect, Apple has a rigorous and practical system that weeds out potential problematic apps and developers. This has been one of the advantages of iOS, and one many users love to have.

Apple opening the platform to app sideloading and 3rd app stores is massive news because no one thought it would ever happen. Users can jailbreak their iPhones and achieve the same thing, but doing so can put your device back a version or two of iOS. So with Apple opening these two roads, many users may not find the need to jailbreak.

Employees across Apple are working on changes to iOS that would open the iPhone to apps outside Apple’s App Store, a report in Bloomberg claims. Citing people familiar with the efforts, the article claims that Apple is attempting to take action by 2024 in response to regulations from the European Union, such as the Digital Markets Act. In fact, the changes could go wide as soon as the release of iOS 17 late next year.

However, Apple is exploring ways to limit users’ exposure to potentially malicious apps. For example, the company is discussing the possibility of still requiring outside apps to be “verified” by Apple, with specific security requirements.

Ars Technica

It will be interesting to see how Apple makes this work in its own Apple way. Read more about this report on Ars Technica.

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