Apple plans to allow users to install alternative app stores on their iOS operating system for iPhone smartphones.
The shift would be a notable change from the company, which has been known to only allow iPhone and iPad users to download apps through the App Store.
The impetus for the decision is the EU’s Digital Markets Act, which aims to enact “rules for digital gatekeepers to ensure open markets” when restrictions become a requirement in 2024, according to a press release.
The law means that Apple will not only have to allow third-party app stores but also side-loading, where users can install apps downloaded from the web.
Apple executives have previously described the ability to sideload software as “cybercriminals’ best friend” in response to the decision.
The EU has set up a relatively complex schedule for complying with the law, which involves potentially affected companies notifying regulators so a committee can determine whether they really need to make changes.
However, the EU says in its press release that the latest date by which tech companies must comply with the law is March 6, 2024.
It is believed that Apple will continue to take the lead, as it may consider “imposing certain security requirements”, checking external applications in some way, and possibly charging fees.
Apple has not yet decided whether it will allow developers to install third-party payment systems in apps, which it is supposed to do under the Digital Markets Act. Nor has it decided how it will make iMessages interoperable with other services, another requirement of the Digital Markets Act.
It is noteworthy that Apple is currently working on another notable change stimulated by European Union regulations, as the company has confirmed that it cannot circumvent European Union rules that require adding a USB-C port to iPhones by 2024.