iOS 17.2 Beta Hints Apple Will Soon Allow iPhone App Sideloading
Signs are pointing to Apple soon allowing iPhone users to install applications from third-party stores, an activity referred to as sideloading. Code found within Apple’s latest iOS 17.2 beta launch hints that the groundwork for sideloading capabilities is actively being laid.
What exactly are sideloading apps?
For those unfamiliar, sideloading is the installation of apps from sources outside of the official app store associated with a device’s operating system. Up until now, iPhones have strictly limited users to only downloading apps made available through Apple’s proprietary App Store.
Enabling sideloading would, for the first time, give iPhone users the option to seek out apps from alternative marketplaces. Additionally, it would grant iOS developers a pathway to distribute their apps without needing to share 15–30% of their revenues with Apple in App Store commissions, as currently required. In addition, you can also read an article on- Apple Releases iOS 17.1: 5 Best New Features Coming to Your iPhone
Sideloading has always been possible on Android devices.
Unlike iPhones, smartphones running Google’s Android operating system have always allowed for sideloading of apps. Android users are free to download apps from third-party stores like Amazon’s Appstore or developer websites. The upcoming sideloading support for iPhones would essentially give Apple device owners capabilities already long-established among Android users.
Upcoming EU Regulations Seemingly Forcing Apple’s Hand
Apple’s sudden apparent embrace of sideloading seems directly tied to looming EU regulations mandating fairer competition. The European Union’s Digital Markets Act, taking effect in 2024, contains provisions requiring major tech corporations to open up their services and platforms.
For Apple specifically, the new rules will require opening iPhone ecosystems to alternative app distribution channels. Rather than fighting the regulations, Apple appears to have accepted the inevitable and begun implementing the necessary iOS foundations. Additionally, you can also read about- Apple Releases iOS 17 and iPadOS 17 with New Features and Improvements
iOS 17.2 Beta Code Signals Preparations Underway
According to the report, the iOS 17.2 beta release contains code indicating Apple is actively laying the groundwork to support sideloading. An API dubbed “Managed App Distribution” was uncovered, containing tools for downloading, installing, and updating apps sourced externally.
The code also references region-locking capabilities likely intended to keep sideloading compliant with location-specific regulations. Additional entitlements allowing third-party apps to install other apps were also found.
While the full sideloading solution may not completely manifest until the eventual iOS 17 launch, the beta provides strong evidence that Apple has begun equipping iPhones with under-the-hood sideloading functionality.
Apple Promoting iOS 17’s Other Upcoming Features For Now
Rather than call attention to the controversial sideloading support, Apple’s iOS 17 messaging has focused on other additions. Most prominently, Apple has touted new spatial video recording for capturing videos in immersive 3D for viewing in upcoming AR/VR headsets.
In summary, iPhone users anticipating sideloaded app capabilities will likely need to wait for the official iOS 17. But Apple seems to have accepted the inevitable and started working to make iPhones more open.