Apple is expected to enable support for sideloading apps on iOS by March 6 to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), and details of the company’s plans to deal with the changes are now emerging. While the company is yet to announce when support for installing applications outside the App Store will be allowed in the EU, a report states that the company will set up processes to review — and possibly charge developers for — these apps.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple plans to enable support for sideloading iOS apps in the EU but will also implement new methods to review apps that are installed outside the App Store. While the iPhone maker currently has full control over how apps are distributed on its smartphones — including vetting and reviewing individual app updates — that is set to change in March when users in the EU will be able to install applications outside the App Store.
It is currently unclear how Apple will restrict apps that are not distributed outside the App Store, but the company uses a security mechanism called Gatekeeper that enforces code signing and download verification of apps downloaded outside the macOS App Store. Apple can technically revoke the certificates for malicious apps, preventing them from running on a user’s device. It is also unclear how Apple plans to review apps that are sideloaded by users on iOS.
The report also states that Apple is considering charging developers for apps sideloaded outside the App Store. The iPhone maker collects between 27 percent to 30 percent of all app purchases and in-app purchases (IAPs) on the App Store, and the company is expected to lose out on the revenue from app developers who choose to distribute their apps outside the App Store.
It remains to be seen whether Apple will enable support for sideloading with the arrival of iOS 17.4 in the coming weeks or whether the functionality can be enabled with the existing code on iOS 17.3 that was rolled out earlier this week. As the DMA deadline approaches, we can expect to learn more about Apple’s plans to deal with iOS app sideloading in the EU in the coming weeks.