iOS users may be able to install apps from third-party sources from Spring 2023


The European Union will enforce the Digital Markets Act (DMA) in 2023, which could have a huge impact on big tech companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Meta (Facebook). Among other things, the law should allow iOS users to install apps from third-party sources.

Why is DMA so important?

The biggest advantage of Google’s Android over iOS is the freedom of choice it gives users. You can download and install Android apps from anywhere i.e. sideloading. All you have to do is download an APK file, allow installation of apps from unknown sources, and the app is ready to use. There are security risks with this method, an app could be malicious, which Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why iOS shouldn’t allow it. But this is only a problem if you download apps from unknown sites and unsavory sources.

iOS users only have one place to get their apps, the App Store. Being locked into Apple’s ecosystem is a bit like living in a golden cage. I’ve been using iOS for about 5 years on my 2017 iPad. While I love the big screen and the OS experience, I find iOS lacking when it comes to apps. Since it restricts browser apps to using the Webkit engine, all OS browsers are basically Safari with a different paint coat, making it almost unnecessary to use another browser.

As someone used to Firefox and extensions, I find it almost unusable. The lack of a file manager and emulators (for games) are the other buzzkills for me. The iPad could be a great emulation device, and the only way to do that is through resources like the AltStore. It is a third-party store from which you can download emulator apps. But it’s not as simple as downloading an APK and hitting the install button.

It requires a computer with the iTunes app which you need to use to install the AltStore app, then you need to download the IPA files (apps), go through a few extra steps before signing the files. This is another issue, because Apple only allows users to sign 3 apps and these work for 7 days, before they need to be re-signed. There’s a way to sign unlimited apps and use them longer (without re-signing them), but you’ll need to sign up for a developer account, and it costs $99. The only real alternative to this problem is to jailbreak the iPhone or iPad. But it has even more complications, not to mention that it also voids your device’s warranty.

So you see, iOS users are really choked when it comes to choosing to install apps. If an app a user wants isn’t available on the App Store, that’s about it for most people, they have to use something else. Is it any wonder that the EU sees the App Store as a monopoly? It is an anti-competitive practice, i.e. a violation of anti-trust laws, which is why the EU wants Apple to remove these restrictions and allow users to install apps from other sources.

EU lawmakers approved the DMA in March this year, but have yet to get final approval from the European Parliament and Council. Tech Crunch reports that Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, announcement that the Digital Markets Act will enter into force in the spring of 2023 and will be applied shortly thereafter. (Going through The edge)

I look forward to the day when DMA is adopted, and Apple will allow us to use the applications we want. I would also like to see a proper third-party repository for iOS like F-Droid with open source alternatives for everyday apps. While the new law would require Apple to allow users in Europe to install apps from other sources, I wonder what that would mean for users in other regions. Will the rest of the world receive the same treatment?


iOS users may be able to install apps from third-party sources from Spring 2023

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iOS users may be able to install apps from third-party sources from Spring 2023

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The European Union has confirmed that it will apply the Digital Markets Act in the spring of 2023. iOS users may finally be able to install apps from other sources.




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