Apple may soon allow sideloading of apps on iPhones, according to a recent report by Bloomberg. Currently, Apple’s closed iPhone app distribution system only allows users to download apps from the App Store.
However, the company is said to be building the groundwork for sideloading functionality with iOS 17, with a possible announcement at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.
The move towards sideloading follows changes in European regulations with the Digital Market Act (DMA) coming into effect in 2024, which forces big tech companies to allow alternative app stores on their platforms, giving users the choice to download apps from different sources.
It is unclear whether Apple will allow sideloading with iOS 17, or whether the company is simply making some changes at the operating system level to enable the possibility at some point in the future. Apple has not commented on the matter, and executives such as Tim Cook and Craig Federighi have previously opposed sideloading, citing privacy and security concerns.
Alongside the rumored sideloading functionality, Apple is expected to announce updates to iOS, macOS, and tvOS at the WWDC. The watchOS operating system may also receive a significant design overhaul. Apple is also expected to unveil its first XR headset, which will be focused on developers at launch, along with a new operating system and software development kit to provide developers with the building blocks for making apps for the headset.
The ability to sideload apps would be a significant change for Apple’s ecosystem, potentially opening the door to more competition and allowing users to download apps from sources other than the App Store. However, it remains to be seen whether the company will actually implement the functionality with iOS 17 or in future versions of its operating system.