Apple reportedly planning to support third-party app stores on iPhones
The Apple App Store won't be the only app library on your iPhone for long
➡️The Shortcut Skinny: Alternative app stores
🍏 Apple looks set to give users access to alternative, third-party app stores
🌎 Bloomberg reports the plans have been made in response to a new EU law
😁 The regulations require Apple to let third-party app stores onto its devices
😠 And allow users to sideload apps, which Apple has vehemently opposed
Apple is reportedly planning to give iPhone users access to third-party app stores, allowing them to circumvent the official Apple App Store for the first time.
According to a new report by Bloomberg, Apple is taking action in response to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, a set of new regulations that was signed into EU law earlier this year. The regulations are designed to “put an end to unfair practices by companies that act as gatekeepers in the online platform economy,” according to a press release.
The law would require Apple to let third-party app stores onto its iOS devices, as well as allow users to sideload apps – whereby they can download apps and software onto a device without using an approved app store or official distribution method.
Apple has long opposed the introduction of third-party app stores and sideloading on its devices, posing them as security threats that endanger user privacy. In a 2021 report, it said: “Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would cripple the privacy and security protections that have made iPhone so secure, and expose users to serious security risk.”
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The company is reportedly exploring safety nets to protect users from such malicious outside threats, such as requiring third-party apps to undergo verification and meet specific security requirements before they can be offered to Apple users.
Other requirements of the Digital Markets Act will also need to be addressed. Under the new law, EU regulators require Apple to make third-party payment systems available in apps and iMessage interoperable with other services. It’s unclear how the company will respond to these changes.
“When a gatekeeper [such as Apple] engages in practices, such as favoring their own services or preventing business users of their services from reaching consumers, this can prevent competition, leading to less innovation, lower quality and higher prices,” the EU said in the press release about the Digital Markets Act.
“When a gatekeeper engages in unfair practices, such as imposing unfair access conditions to their app store or preventing installation of applications from other sources, consumers are likely to pay more or are effectively deprived of the benefits that alternative services might have brought,” it added.
Apple and other tech companies will have until March 6, 2024, to comply with the new regulations, although it could go ahead and put them into practice before then, possibly with the release of iOS 17 next year.
Apple revealed earlier this year that it will comply with another recent EU law mandating all phones, tablets, headphones and other devices sold in EU countries must use a standard USB-C charging port. It looks set to introduce a USB-C port to all new iPhones by 2024, making its proprietary Lightning port redundant. However, it’s unclear if Apple will change the iPhone’s hardware worldwide, or just alter those iPhones sold in EU markets.
Not that Apple isn’t busy in other areas. Its elusive mixed reality headset is expected to appear sometime next year, and it’s currently facing a lawsuit alleging Apple AirTags can be used as stalking devices.