Apple is planning to let users install alternative app stores on iOS, according to a report from Bloomberg. The shift would be a remarkable change from the company, which has famously only allowed iPhone and iPad users to download apps from the App Store.
The plans are reportedly being spurred on by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is meant to enact “rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets” when its restrictions become a requirement in 2024, according to a press release.
The law means that Apple will not only have to allow third-party app stores but sideloading as well, where users can install software downloaded from the web. Apple executives have previously called the ability to sideload software “a cybercriminal’s best friend” in response to the act.
I’m glad at least one government is doing something to address the blatant abuse of power in the tech industry. This is a major concession by Apple, and one that will have massive consequences. Users will regain a lot of control over their Apple devices, and developers harmed by Apple’s random and opaque “rules” and application thereof will now have alternatives to explore. On top of that, this will force the App Store to compete on merit, something it has never had to do before, and it will enable applications Apple would never allow to come to iOS. And of course, if you’re not interested in any of this – don’t add any third party stores, and don’t sideload.
If this is tied to EU Apple hardware, there’s going to be a thriving grey market of people importing EU Apple devices into the US.