The European Union’s recently signed Digital Markets Act requires that what it calls gatekeepers – Apple and other operators of app stores – must allow for sideloading, or letting people put apps on their phones from outside of those App Stores. Apple’s App Store currently is the only place for iPhone and iPad users to get apps, outside of jailbreaking. Apple says the current “walled garden” system is an important protection, but critics argue that it gives it too much power over the device.
The introduction of sideloading is just one of the many controversial parts of the Digital Markets Act. But if it goes through as planned, the company will be forced to let people head to a website and download a third-party app, without standing in the way. The European Commission has made very clear that it believes that is required for fair competition, and that it thinks that will give users more choice about what apps they use and how they get them.
[Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture], does not agree, and Apple has been explicit in its opposition to sideloading. The idea that people are being given an extra choice – including the choice of sticking with the App Store and keeping its protections – is a false one, he says with some frustration.
“That’s a great misunderstanding – and one we have tried to explain over and over. The reality of what the alternative distribution requirements enable is that software that users in Europe need to use – sometimes business software, other times personal software, social software, things that they want to use – may only be available outside of the store, alternatively distributed.
“In that case, those users don’t have a choice to get that software from a distribution mechanism that they trust. And so, in fact, it is simply not the case that users will retain the choice they have today to get all of their software from the App Store.”
MacDailyNews Take: Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that iPhone and iPad users in the European Union will be able to install apps hosted outside of Apple’s App Store to comply with the EU’s Digital Markets Act regulations.
The issue of whether or not choice is increased, decreased, or stays the same with sideloading is an open question.
It’s Apple’s App Store. Of course they have a right to charge commissions.
Apple’s App Store isn’t a charity and it’s not free to operate. – MacDailyNews, November 14, 2022
How much did it cost developers to have their apps burned onto CDs, boxed, shipped, displayed on store shelves prior to Apple remaking the world for the better for umpteenth time? Apple incurs costs to store, review, organize, surface, and distribute apps to over one billion users. — MacDailyNews, June 10, 2022
That said, as we wrote last year:
Those who want safety, security, and privacy will stick to Apple’s App Store, but a single point of control is always a danger, especially when it comes to capricious censorship (see: pre-Musk Twitter, Apple’s App Store in China, etc.).
iPhone and iPad users must, like Mac users, have the ability to install third-party apps; even if they never do, for it will keep Apple honest. The ability to ban an app loses all power when it’s simply available in another App Store.
These moves, including removing the mandate to use WebKit, Apple’s Safari browsing engine, in third-party browsers, will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, the threat of anti-trust actions against Apple for the foreseeable future.
Also, expect Gatekeeper to come to iOS and iPadOS from macOS.
Yes, Apple’s App Store revenue will take a hit, but there are new products for new markets on deck (AR/VR headsets, AR glasses, Apple Car, etc.) that will more than make up for any loss of App Store exclusivity.
Please help support MacDailyNews. Click or tap here to support our independent tech blog. Thank you!
Support MacDailyNews at no extra cost to you by using this link to shop at Amazon.