One of the downsides of Apple’s iOS ecosystem is that it takes an extreme walled garden approach where users are forced to buy and download their apps from the App Store and only the App Store. While there have been workarounds in the past, it isn’t quite as simple as Android where accessing third-party app stores and sideloading are pretty easy and straightforward.
But that could change in the future as the EU’s Digital Markets Act has come into effect. While companies like Apple will not have to comply immediately, the law could see Apple being forced to tear down the walls of their ecosystem and allow iOS users to access third-party app stores and even sideload apps.
The EU is expected to determine which companies are large enough to be considered “gatekeepers”, in which the toughest rules will apply to them. While nothing has been confirmed, it wouldn’t be surprising if Apple were to make that list. Once the companies are announced in the spring, they will then have six months to comply with the new laws.
According to Gerard de Graaf, the EU official who helped pass the new law, “If you have an iPhone, you should be able to download apps not just from the App Store but from other app stores or from the internet.”
Ahead of this, Apple was also forced to comply with another EU law that makes USB-C the charging standard for mobile devices. The company has since announced that they will comply, but we imagine that being forced to allow third-party stores and sideloading is a much bigger deal and it will be interesting to see how Apple plans to respond.