iOS 17.4 Coming Soon as iPhone App Sideloading Deadline in EU Nears

Apple has until March 6 to fully comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act, which among other things will require the company to allow iPhone users to install apps outside of the App Store. With the deadline for this regulation fast approaching, it is likely that Apple will begin preparing for these changes with iOS 17.4.

iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue
The first iOS 17.4 beta is expected to be released as early as this week, although it is unclear if the app-related changes will be rolled out for testing immediately, or held for later beta versions. Apple is expected to add support for both third-party app stores and app sideloading on the iPhone for users in EU countries, including Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and others.

Apple has strongly opposed the Digital Markets Act and app sideloading over the past few years, citing privacy and security risks for customers. At a tech conference in 2021, Apple CEO Tim Cook said app sideloading "would destroy the security of the iPhone and a lot of the privacy initiatives that we've built into the App Store."

Apple will likely do the minimum required to comply with the Digital Markets Act, which may lead to several limitations and guardrails surrounding third-party app stores and app sideloading on the iPhone. We've seen Apple do similar with legal compliance in the U.S., where it recently allowed developers to direct customers to payment methods outside of the ‌App Store‌, but is still collecting up to a 27% commission and has several rules.

There are other changes coming to the iPhone in Europe as a result of regulatory pressures. Earlier this week, the European Commission announced that Apple has promised to give third-party payment apps access to the iPhone's NFC chip in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, which should result in more competition for Apple Pay. It's unclear when Apple will implement this change, but it is likely further away than app sideloading.

We will be digging into iOS 17.4 as soon as it is released, so stay tuned for a closer look at any new features and code changes.

Related Roundups: iOS 17, iPadOS 17
Related Forums: iOS 17, iPadOS 17

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Top Rated Comments

krspkbl Avatar
26 weeks ago
They should do everyone a favour and allow sideloading worldwide.

It's not as scary as you think. You don't ever need to use it if you want Apple to protect you but it's nice to have the choice.

Do people only download apps on their Macs through the app store there? lol. If my PC didn't allow "side loading" (which is basically normal installing) then I'd not use it because it'd heavily restrict my use of it.

iOS is the most locked down OS out there and it's only that way to protect Apple's ability to make money. Every other advanced modern OS allows side loading (including MacOS).
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mcilwraith Avatar
26 weeks ago
will this cover the UK? Brexit? I would only trust the App store anyway, to be honest. security is all.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Glenny2lappies Avatar
26 weeks ago
These are EU rules, not European rules.

The EU is not Europe.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lounge vibes 05 Avatar
26 weeks ago

iOS is the most locked down OS out there.
tvOS has entered the chat…
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kylo83 Avatar
26 weeks ago
As the uk left the eu would we not get the side loading
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
26 weeks ago
MacRumors at its best: “There might be a 17.4 beta soon and 17.4 might do something for side-loading, but we don’t actually have any new information, not even rumors. Happily our readers still fall for the clickbaity title.”
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)