Apple has kept the iPhone app distribution system closed, allowing users to download the apps only from the App Store. But the company might be adding some gates to this walled garden to let people sideload apps on iPhones soon.
A Bloomberg report noted that the Cupertino-based company will build the groundwork for such functionality with iOS 17. Reporter Mark Gurman said in his newsletter that Apple is overhauling its software for sideloading and we might see some announcement related to that at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.
Last year, another Bloomberg report hinted at Apple’s new approach toward sideloading, owing to a change in regulation in Europe. EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA) will come into effect in 2024. The act forces big tech companies to allow alternative app stores on their platforms, so developers have a choice when it comes to app distribution and users have the choice of downloading apps from different sources.
It’s unclear if Apple is planning to allow sideloading with iOS 17 or if Apple is just making some changes at the operating system level to enable this possibility at some point down the road. The company didn’t immediately comment on the story.
Historically, Apple execs including Tim Cook and Craig Federighi have staunchly opposed sideloading citing privacy and security reasons.
Bloomberg’s latest report noted that Apple will also announce updates to iOS, macOS, and tvOS. While these operating systems will have some incremental updates, watchOS might get a big design overhaul.
Naturally, all eyes will be on Apple’s rumored unveiling of its first XR headset, which will focus on developers at launch. Along with this, the company is also expected to release a new operating system and a software development kit that will provide developers with the building blocks for making apps for this headset.