EU iPhone owners will get a whole new way to download apps in 2024, insider says

iPhone App Store showcasing apps and games sections
(Image credit: iMore)

Following the news that Apple has effectively confirmed that the option to sideload apps is coming to the iPhone, a new report might have given us an indication of when that will happen.

We've been hearing rumors of Apple's intention to open up the installation of iPhone apps to allow it to be done via methods other than the App Store for months, but now it's actually happening. A new report claims that the sideloading of apps could be a thing in the first half of 2024, but there's a catch.

App sideloading looks set to be limited to people who own iPhones in countries that are part of the European Union, although it's always possible that it could be expanded to others in the future.

More apps for some

Apple was at one point thought to have planned to add sideloading to iOS 17, but that ultimately didn't happen. Instead, it looks like a future version of Apple's iPhone software will be the key one with Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reporting that early 2024 will see sideloading come to iOS.

Gurman was writing in the weekly Power On newsletter when he said that Apple would allow the installation of apps from third-party sources next year.

The change is a result of the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) requirements for so-called "gatekeepers" companies to make their platforms more open. Apple falls into that category thanks to the popularity of the iPhone. With apps only available via the App Store, developers are restricted in how they can get their products to their customers and the DMA seeks to change that. As a result, Apple must allow third-party app installation via alternative methods.

However, Apple has long argued that opening the iPhone to third-party app installation would undermine security, and for that reason, it seems likely that the change will only happen in EU member countries. However, it's possible watchdogs in other countries could seek to follow the EU's lead if third-party app stores prove a success.

More from iMore

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.