'Blink and you'll miss it' App Store update could be a glimpse at the future of iOS sideloading

Logo of Apple's App Store
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's latest iOS 17.4 beta added a new "App Verification" screen in the App Store for EU iPhone owners, but the company now says it was a bug.

The update, spotted by Dimitris Sartzetakis of @iSWUpdates on X/Twitter (thanks, MacRumors), showcases a pop-up which says "App Store" Would Like To Install An App".

"Verify the information before installing," it adds, before offering a "Learn More" link.

While Apple has told MacRumors that the update was a bug, it could also be a glimpse at how multiple app stores will be treated on iOS when the platform is opened up for third-party alternatives to comply with the Digital Markets Act.

In the example below, Clips is being installed, but the quotation marks around "App Store" suggest third-party storefronts could receive a similar treatment. Could we see this pop-up when trying to install apps from web browsers and other storefronts?

iOS App Store screenshot by Dimitris Sartzetakis

(Image credit: Apple/Dimitris Sartzetakis)

When is sideloading coming to iPhone?

With sideloading arriving in EU territories (not including the UK) with iOS 17.4, you may be wondering what it is and why it's important.

We've got a full rundown, but the short version is that the European Union's Digital Markets Act will no longer allow Apple to monopolize its "walled garden" ecosystem (it applies to Google, too, but sideloading is already more prevalent on Android). Aside from allowing third-party payment options, it'll also open up the option to install fresh app stores to users who are savvy enough to do so.

A report claims Apple still wants to verify apps and collect fees from those circumnavigating the traditional App Store setup, but time will tell if it's able to do that.

As for when you'll get access to sideloading, it looks likely iOS 17.4's final release will arrive in March. Epic Games is one of the developers already keen to build its own app store for Europe.

Lloyd Coombes
Contributor

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at GGRecon.com, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.