Apple Allows App Sideloading in the EU

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  • Apple has announced a significant change to its app download policy in the European Union (EU), allowing sideloading through direct web distribution.
  • The move comes as an effort by the company to comply with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.

Apple is making major changes to iOS and iPhone operations in compliance with the European Union’s Digital Markets Act. In a significant move, the company has, for the first time, allowed sideloading of apps on iPhones through direct downloads from websites owned by the developer. Essentially, this will allow the installation of apps on the iPhone through third-party app stores.

The changes are specifically available to users in the EU, where iPhone owners will be able to download and use alternative app stores and even use third-party app stores as the default setting. The changes will be made available through a software update released in the months ahead. Developers designated as ‘authorized’ will also gain access to APIs that enable app distribution through the web in addition to backup, restoration, and integration system functionalities.

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Third-party app marketplaces can also offer their own apps without selling apps from other developers, in addition to gaining significant freedom in deciding promotional discounts and deals. To cover security concerns, Apple is also setting up a process to screen apps for cyber threats and malware protection. Apps such as Spotify are likely to gain significantly from the changes.

However, the changes have some restrictions; not all developers will qualify for the ‘authorized’ designation. To qualify, the developer must be enrolled in Apple’s Developer Program and have at least one app with over a million annual installs in the previous year. Qualified developers will also have to pay a €0.50 Core Technology Fee for each annual installation over the first million in the preceding year.

The new sideloading policy by Apple will make it comparable to the Android app distribution system. However, the restrictions are likely to hamper developers’ adoption of the new policy in the near future. Whether Apple brings these policies to other countries outside the EU remains to be seen.

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