iOS 17 opens up third-party appstores: but only in Europe
On 6 June, Apple will hold its WWDC 2023 conference, where the new generation of iOS will be unveiled. The latest news suggests that iOS 17 is not a major system upgrade and will not offer users any significant improvements or upgrades, but mainly improvements to the system's applications.
There is also enough information to suggest that iOS 17 will support app sideloading and third-party app stores due to EU legislation. The news has left many users wondering about security issues.
In March 2022, the EU enacted the Digital Marketplace Act, which aims to regulate the operations of large connected companies and came into force on 1 November. The implementation of this law could force Apple to completely open up the sideloading of apps, allowing users to choose from a wider range of app stores.
The bill requires that large technology companies can only use personal data for targeted advertising with the explicit consent of the user.
Users must be able to choose their browser, virtual assistant or search engine, for example. And companies that break the rules will face fines of 10 per cent of their annual global turnover, with cumulative fines capped at 20 per cent for multiple breaches, and could face acquisition bans.
The law enters a critical six-month enforcement period, and by 2 May this year, all major internet companies that consider themselves to be "gatekeepers" must voluntarily notify the European Commission.
The European Commission will have 45 working days to confirm whether these companies meet the criteria for being a 'gatekeeper' company. Once confirmed, these companies will have a six-month transition period to ensure that they comply with the provisions of the Digital Marketplace Act.
Apple has previously spoken out against the issue, citing the current state of Android. The open source nature of Android brings a lot of convenience to the Android ecosystem and we can run Android on any smart device.
It is also possible to build third-party proprietary operating systems on top of Android, giving developers and users the greatest degree of freedom. But with freedom comes disorder, and with disorder comes chaos, especially in China.
The advantage of sideloading is that it allows users to bypass the App Store and install from third-party app markets or by downloading installers directly. This means that users can download cracked software at will, even applications developed by individual developers that are not listed in the AppStore.
But there are also major risks, as smartphones are no longer the mobile phones they used to be for communication, but rather information processing centres for users, often containing a lot of personal information.
The problem with sideloading is that there is no way to guarantee that the applications installed are within the design specifications and do not contain malicious code to gain access to your privacy, but the problem is that much malicious software cannot be judged as malicious until it has been installed.
By the time installation is complete and permissions are granted, it is too late and your privacy is likely to be compromised. So it's no wonder that users reacted so strongly when they heard that iOS 17 would be open sideloaded, as security is very important to them.
Security aside, the uniqueness of Apple's App Store also generates extremely high revenues for Apple. With over $68 billion in profits from its App Store in 2021, it is no wonder that Apple is against open sideloading.
The Apple App Store has been criticised for its high commissions, with a whopping 30% commission making many services on Apple devices more expensive than others.
But the good news is that iOS 17 will only be open sideloading in the European market, and developers may have to pay extra to offer app services through third-party app stores, although Apple made no mention of this at the conference.
This is good news for local users. After all, it is already difficult to maintain personal privacy in the current chaotic app market in China, and once sideloading is open, it will be a huge blow to users who choose Apple for security.
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