Is sideloading coming to iOS 17? This is what Craig Federighi had to say

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Is sideloading coming to iOS 17? This is what Craig Federighi had to say
WWDC 2023 has come and gone, but the highlight of this year’s event has yet to make its official debut (i.e. the Apple Vision Pro). As we patiently wait for the Cupertino company’s first ‘spatial computer’, we are now taking a look at what is, traditionally, the main focus of the annual developer conference - software.

One notable software feature that the WWDC keynote made no mention of is the implementation of sideloading to iOS 17 or, in layman’s terms, the introduction of support for third-party app stores. Luckily, at least one person spotted said omission and confronted Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, about it.

In The Talk Show Live From WWDC 2023, John Gruber discussed Apple’s compliance with European Union regulations mandating the implementation of sideloading. Naturally, Federighi was reluctant to give any clarity on the controversial topic, instead deciding to assert that Apple is trying to do ‘the right thing for its customers’ and that the American Tech giant is ‘working with the EU’ on the matter. 

For reference, if the Cupertino company fails to comply with EU legislation requiring the co-existence of the App Store and third-party alternatives to it, Apple products could be banned from being sold the European Single Market, the tech giant’s second most important market.

Judging from Federighi’s reaction, EU regulations are effectively challenging Apple’s anticompetitive behavior, and are forcing the latter to (reluctantly) tweak its business model. Hence, we could reasonably expect support for third-party app stores in the foreseeable future.

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Although Mark Gurman’s prediction that the feature would come to iOS 17 failed to materialize, there is one thing he seems to have gotten right. Namely, the fact that sideloading will almost certainly be restricted to devices sold in the European Union. Apple certainly has a questionable definition of ‘the right thing’ for its customers.

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