The iPhone will allow you to install apps that are outside the App Store for the first time since its launch in 2007. The so-called sideloading will be valid specifically for European Union countries, as of March 7, as part of a new legislation related to the digital market, the DMA. The measure applies to the iOS system, the Safari browser and the App Store itself.

The company revealed that developers will have more than 600 new APIs at their disposal, as well as extra functionality for Safari’s rival browsers and options for payment processing. Also according to Apple, additional security measures have been taken to “reduce the risks posed by the DMA to EU users.” The Cupertino giant emphasizes that threats are not entirely “eliminated.”

These new features were expected and will arrive along with iOS 17.4, which entered public beta this Thursday (25/01). They apply specifically to the European Union. There will be no change in the way the App Store works in Brazil or in other relevant markets, such as the United States.

How will apps download on iPhone
App developers will still have to submit apps to Apple. They will choose whether the distribution will be through the App Store or other digital stores. Apple’s reviewers will check if the store and the app follow quality protocols, in a flow reminiscent of the Mac App Store.

iPhone owners will see a specific download screen before completing the installation. This screen will have the name of the app, the company behind it, and some screenshots, just like it happens today in the App Store and Google Play Store. In addition, users will need to authorize marketplaces to have access to the iPhone’s system.

According to The Verge, all apps downloaded on the iPhone will still go through Apple in some form. Tecnoblog found that the notarization process is considered critical to maintain the high quality of apps on Apple’s phone.

Browsers, NFC, and games
Browsers present on iOS today are required to use WebKit, Apple’s page-viewing engine. They will be able to adopt other engines from now on. That’s good news for Chrome and Firefox, for example.
The iPhone’s NFC will be unlocked. Nowadays, it only works under conditions that are fully controlled by Apple. This means that payments will be able to be made even without going through the Apple Pay digital wallet.
Game streaming services are also now accepted on the App Store. The novelty should benefit Xbox Cloud Gaming and GeForce Now. Until then, Apple’s rival platforms had to use technologies embedded in Safari to deliver the games.

Changes to business rules
Apple also introduced the new rules for doing business in the European Union. The company will continue to charge software developers fees even if they choose to use other distribution platforms.