Apple has controlled the iOS ecosystem with a tight fist ever since the concept of iPhones and an App Store from where users could download and install applications existed. For years, Apple has argued that its iron fist over the software ecosystem of the iPhone and the iPad has kept Apple’s mobile devices much safer than their Android or Windows counterparts. Now, that is set to change.
Apple has always maintained that keeping the Apple Ecosystem locked away from other, unverified application is crucial for the Cupertino-based tech giant to ensure the safety of their customers from malicious app developers. The company has always said that this so-called “walled garden” approach was necessary to help users have a good experience, protect against viruses and malware, and preserve user privacy.
Steve Jobs championed this strategy and needed to be convinced to bring an App Store to the iPhone. He believed that people using Apple products should be content with the applications that come as default on iPhones and iPads.
The European Union recently enacted new legislation called the Digital Markets Act. Although the act is framed in a way that would allow fair play among all app developers, it was mainly aimed at Apple, Google, and Meta for their monopolistic control over developers. Apple, in particular, and Apple’s monopoly among iPhone users was what the bill was targeting.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, Apple is reportedly making plans to comply with the new laws. Changes could come as soon as the iOS 17 update, expected to launch in the September of 2023.
All of this basically means that regular users will be able to sideload apps or install apps from sources other than the App Store. This is not currently possible without jailbreaking or accessing the root of a particular device. Doing so not only voids any warranty that Apple may have provided on a new machine but in many countries, rooting an Apple device isn’t strictly legal.
Apple has long maintained that allowing users to sideload apps would undermine iOS’ security and leave users exposed. People opposing Apple, meanwhile, have argued that the security risks are minimal compared to the benefits brought by increased competition in the App Store and more user choice.
Apple is also contemplating allowing other application ecosystems onto the platform and may allow app stores other than the official App Store.
Both sideloading and the existence of a different app store will allow developers to bypass the 30 percent commission that Apple charges from developers for apps that generate over $1 million a year in revenue. Elon Musk called this the secret “Apple Tax” when he briefly went on a tangent attacking Apple and Tim Cook for their policies towards social media platforms.