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iOS 17 might add a huge Android feature to your iPhone

As Apple’s Wideworld Developers Conferencce gets closer, the rumors have continued coming in at rapid succession. Over the weekend, in his Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman claims that iOS 17 will support app sideloading to comply with European regulations. This would allow iPhone users to download apps and games that are hosted on digital storefronts that are not Apple’s official App Store — something Android phones have been able to do for years.

With the ability to sideload apps, customers don’t necessarily need to use Apple’s App Store to download and purchase apps or make in-app purchases. This change would also mean developers can bypass Apple’s 15% to 30% fees from all purchases.

App Store displayed on an iPhone 14 Pro against a pink background
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

This change will comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) that went into effect on November 1, 2022. This doesn’t affect only Apple, as it requires all “gatekeeper” companies to “open up their services and platforms” to third-party companies and developers. This includes other big tech companies like Google, Meta, Amazon, and more.

The DMA will have significant impact on Apple’s platform and services. Though no one knows for certain just yet, it can affect not just the App Store, but Messages, FaceTime, Siri, and more Apple services. According to Gurman, Apple seems to be implementing sideloading support to comply with these regulations by next year, so it would make sense as an iOS 17 feature.

Apple has always been a strong opponent against sideloading, as the company claimed such a feature would “undermine the privacy and security protections” that the iPhone is known for, making it more likely to be vulnerable to malware, scams, data tracking, and more. But if Apple does not comply with the DMA, it could be fined as much as 20% of its global revenue.

Though Apple may be allowing sideloading in iOS 17, it could also implement its own security requirements instead. One of these could be verification, which Apple could charge a fee for instead of getting a cut from app sales and in-app purchases. This is not completely out of line, as Apple already has such a verification process on the Mac.

While these changes would be great in terms of giving users more choice, we feel like most people will still continue to use the App Store. I myself am skeptical about possible security issues, and I like having my 3% cash back with my Apple Card. Still, if this change does happen as it’s rumored, it could be one of the biggest changes to iOS in years.

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Christine Romero-Chan
Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade. She graduated from California…
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