Apple plans to let users install alternative app stores on iOS, according to a report by Bloomberg. The shift would be a notable change from the company, which famously only allows iPhone and iPad users to download apps from the App Store.
The plans are reportedly spurred by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which aims to establish “digital gatekeeper rules to ensure open markets” when its restrictions become a requirement in 2024, according to a press release.
The law means that Apple must allow not only third-party app stores, but also sideloading, which allows users to install software downloaded from the Internet. Apple executives previously called the ability to sideload software “a cybercriminal’s best friend” in response to the law.
The EU has set up a relatively complex schedule for complying with the law, with companies potentially affected by the law notifying regulators and a committee determining whether they actually need to make any changes.
However, in its press release, the EU says the latest date for gatekeeper companies to comply with the law is March 6, 2024.
Apple may still have some hands on the reins. The company is apparently considering “imposing certain security requirements”, verifying third-party apps in some way and possibly charging a fee, Bloomberg reports. Apple hasn’t yet decided whether it will let developers install third-party payment systems in apps, which it should do under the DMA, Bloomberg say. It also hasn’t yet decided how it will make iMessage interoperable with other services, another condition of the DMA, and could open up its Find My network to more location accessories like Tile.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Apple is currently working on another massive change spurred by EU regulations – the company has confirmed it can’t get around EU rules enforcing the addition of USB-C to the iPhone by 2024.