5 Reasons Forced Sideloading Will Make the iPhone WorseReading Time: 4 minutes
To comply with EU law, Apple is considering sideloading and third-party app stores for iOS 17. Here’s why this will make the iPhone worse.
In order to comply with EU law, Apple is reportedly considering official sideloading and third-party app store support for iOS 17. The EU’s Digital Markets Act comes into effect in 2023, with companies getting until 2024 to make changes. The recent law dictates that Big Tech companies allow third-party app downloads to give customers more flexibility.
So, sideloading is coming to the iPhone for sure–most likely with iOS 17 in 2023. But how will that change the iPhone? Here are five reasons forced sideloading will make the iPhone worse.
1. Increased Security Risk From Unapproved Apps
A huge part of Apple’s own App Store involves security. As you may already be aware, before getting the green light to list on the store, Apple puts new apps through a rigorous review process. This makes sure that there’s nothing harmful in apps, such as spyware or malware hidden inside an app. Apple even goes as far as to make sure apps are kept up-to-date, or they risk removal.
With the introduction of third-party app stores, Apple won’t get to cast an eye over new apps. This means that malicious groups or developers would be free to bury harmful programs within apps, with little risk of being caught.
Of course, some third-party app stores could implement their own policies, but enforcement won’t be nearly as good as Apple’s. Plus, with sideloading officially supported, developers can host their apps on their own websites, with no restrictions whatsoever.
We’ve already seen this sort of thing happen before with users jailbreaking their iPhone–one of the unofficial ways to sideload apps from a third-party store. Many popular tweaks contain malware used to gather personal data on users, with no review policy to catch them out.
However, there is room for official third-party app stores to exist. Similar sites for Android devices, such as APKMirror, exist with a large library of safe apps to download. The question comes, will your average user be able to tell what’s safe and which isn’t? And unfortunately, a lot probably won’t, and that’s if users even know how to access them.
2. Existing Apps Could Leave Apple’s App Store
With third-party app stores available, existing apps currently in Apple’s own App Store could choose to jump ship. While mainstream apps, including popular social media platforms, are unlikely to do so, smaller app developers could be tempted by other options.
This is especially the case for apps with in-app purchases, where Apple takes a 30% cut of prices as payment. Alternative app stores might offer reduced fees, or even none at all, giving these developers a big reason to switch over. Some could even host apps on their own websites and allow sideloaded installations, resulting in a 100% cut of sales.
Surely, you could just redownload your app from the new store? Absolutely, that’s how it would work! But once again, less technical individuals might not know how to do this. And things could start to get very confusing should apps start disappearing from home screens.
3. Introduces Additional Complications for App Developers
On a similar note but from the opposite point of view, things might get a little tricky for developers with multiple app store options. While third-party app stores may be attractive, developers may also want to keep a presence in the inevitably more popular App Store.
What then happens when an app gets updated? If the App Store has more stringent rules than a third-party alternative, developers might need to release different software versions for the same app. Or even the simpler element of app sales could get confusing, with multiple sources of revenue. And what if a developer picks no app store and allows sideloading from a website? The installation process could start to get even trickier.
While each of these problems is manageable, especially for large developers, it creates unnecessary headaches for smaller or individual developers. If the process is so simple at the moment, big changes are likely to complicate matters.
4. Changes the Current iOS Experience
But these complications aren’t just for developers, rather iOS as a whole gets a little different. Ask many iPhone users why they prefer to use an iPhone, and iOS will likely be a top answer. Apple’s software is well-known for being easier to use and more secure.
Third-party apps and sideloading risk this part of the iOS reputation–but it’s not just the reputation at risk. Like it or not, Apple’s greater level of control is a large part of iOS. If Apple starts losing this control, simple processes, such as downloading apps, no longer involve a standardised experience.
While this may sound minor, especially since Android devices manage fine, it creates a large problem for iOS. Those who bought devices for the ease-of-use could suddenly find more complicated steps thrown to them–without even wanting the changes. Remember, Android has always allowed third-party stores and sideloading; iOS has not. It’s the switch that brings up problems for everyday users, not the existence of such options.
Apple is likely to somewhat squirrel away sideloading settings, much like installing third-party apps on Macs. But when these options are unwillingly thrust upon users in order to continue using existing apps, it only gets more confusing for them. Wasn’t the EU’s legislation all about making things easier?
5. The EU’s Legislation Sets a Dangerous Precedent
That’s not the only place the EU’s legislation falls down, either. The governing body’s ability to force legislation on tech companies is a rather worrying turn of events. In 2022 alone, the EU passed Acts to force tech companies to allow third-party app stores, and to mandate USB-C as the charging standard.
It’s concerning how much power the EU is demonstrating, and it sets other bodies up to do the same thing. Lawmakers are often slow to adopt new technologies, meaning such mandates will likely be left in place as new technology develops.
Plus, it’s not right for governments to have so much control over private companies. The Digital Markets Act forcing sideloading and third-party app stores on iOS (and other operating systems) sets a dangerous precedent for similar moves in the future.
Sideloading and Third-Party Apps Will Change Your iPhone Experience for the Worse
Sideloading and third-party app stores will change the iPhone experience pretty drastically–and not for the better. With day-to-day functions of the iPhone affected, the forced changes are set to affect users that don’t necessarily want to us them.
Note that Android phones already support sideloading and third-party app stores for some time, and some below-board methods exist for the iPhone. Android phones don’t have all the issues we covered, since many of these problems stem from the change to iOS. It’s always been the case on Android, which nothing new for existing users to adapt to.
Alongside this, there are plenty of other iOS 17 features we want to see in 2023 that won’t wreak havoc on your iPhone.