Apple to Support Alternate App Store Options via Sideloading in Europe

Apple will reportedly be introducing alternative App Store options via sideloading in Europe. The unprecedented move comes as the Cupertino company works to comply with incoming European Union (EU) requirements set for 2024.

In order to comply with EU requirements, incoming changes could see users be able to download apps outside of the App Store, according to Bloomberg. Those familiar with the matter claim that not only could the use of the App Store be sidelined but also Apple’s mandatory 30 percent commission cut of in-app purchases.

To start, however, the changes will only be made available within Europe in order to comply with regulations. However, the report goes on to speculate whether these changes may set a precedent for other regions. According to sources, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that similar laws could be passed elsewhere.

Earlier this year, when the EU introduced its Digital Markets Act (DMA), Apple was a bit hesitant to comply with its requirements and changes. While Mac devices already enable users to install apps outside of the App Store, Apple didn’t believe this could translate to iPhones due to the heightened amount of secure information on smartphones. However, EU spokesperson Johannes Bahrke pushed back. “We believe that the owner of a smartphone should have the freedom to choose how to use it,” Bahrke said at the time.

The EU’s DMA went into effect on November 1st. As such, Apple’s software engineering and services employees are reportedly working to open up “key elements of Apple’s platforms.” It’s said that the company will be looking to introduce sideloading of apps for European users with iOS 17 in 2023. This would give Apple enough of a window ahead of the EU’s deadline to ensure a smooth foundation is set for its users. However, sources claim that with such an emphasis on drastic changes, work on future feature implementations could be affected.

Apple is said to be double downing on security protocols for this update. As users will be able to sideload content, the company is said to be considering a verification system. The report claims that Apple may charge a nominal fee in exchange for the loss of its in-app payment structure. This system would supposedly be similar to the established verification seen on Macs.

The company is being forced to comply with EU regulations at the end of the day. If Apple does not comply by 2024, the EU can fine the company as much as 20 percent of its global revenue, which is equal to nearly $80 million USD (around $108 million CAD).