January 24, 2024 – Following the global rollout of iOS 17.3, which introduced a slew of features including enhanced anti-theft protection, Apple is gearing up for an even more significant update with iOS 17.4. Rumors suggest that the tech giant could release the first beta version of this upcoming operating system this week.
The most anticipated aspect of iOS 17.4 is its potential support for app sideloading in Europe. This development comes in response to the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates that Apple must make changes to its platform by March 7th. Specifically, the company will be required to open up its ecosystem to third-party app stores and sideloading in Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and other European nations.
Failure to comply with the DMA’s regulations could result in hefty fines for Apple, potentially amounting to up to 10% of its annual turnover. However, it seems unlikely that the company will extend sideloading capabilities to regions outside of Europe anytime soon. This reluctance is likely due to the significant revenue generated by the App Store through its so-called “Apple tax.”
In related news, Apple has also recently committed to opening up access to NFC technology in the European Union, a move that will allow third-party payment apps to utilize this functionality. This marks a significant departure from the company’s previous stance on NFC access and is another indication of the regulatory pressures it is facing.