iOS 17 will reportedly set the stage for sideloading apps on iPhone

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Apple has kept the iPhone app distribution system closed, allowing users to download the apps only from the App Store. But the company may be adding some ports to this walled garden to let people sideload apps on iPhones soon.

A Bloomberg report noted that the Cupertino-based company will lay the groundwork for such functionality with iOS 17. Reporter Mark Gurman said in his newsletter that Apple is reviewing its sideloading software and we may see an announcement related to that will hold at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) in June.

Last year, another Bloomberg report hinted at Apple’s new approach to sideloading, following a regulatory change in Europe. The EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA) will take effect in 2024. The law will force major tech companies to allow alternative app stores on their platforms, giving developers choice when it comes to app distribution and users the have choice to download apps from different sources.

It’s unclear if Apple plans to allow sideloading with iOS 17 or if Apple is just making some changes at the operating system level to enable this capability at some point. The company did not immediately comment on the story.

Historically, Apple executives including Tim Cook and Craig Federighi have vehemently opposed sideloading, citing privacy and security reasons.

Bloomberg’s latest report noted that Apple will also announce updates to iOS, macOS, and tvOS. While these operating systems will have some incremental updates, watchOS could get a major design overhaul.

Of course, all eyes will be on Apple’s rumored unveiling of its first XR headset, which will be aimed at developers at launch. In addition, the company is also expected to release a new operating system and software development kit that will provide developers with the building blocks for creating apps for this headset.

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