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Let the iPhone sideloading begin! iOS 17.5 lets EU users download apps from the web

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The iOS 17.5 developer beta is out, and it allows iPhone users to download apps directly from websites as long as they’re located within the European Union. Apple is taking measures to control the apps distributed outside its App Store after being forced to allow sideloading by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Developers who want to offer their apps for downloading through a website must be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program for at least two continuous years, have an app with more than one million first-time installs on iOS in the EU in the past year, and comply with Apple’s notarization process, including providing clear data collection policies. 

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Once qualification is asserted, Apple will give these app developers access to an API for web downloads. Apps downloaded from websites should look and act like other apps downloaded on the App Store. Users can back up, restore, and update these apps like others.

This is the first time Apple has officially allowed app sideloading on iPhones, which allows developers to avoid paying Apple’s commissions of up to 30%. The developers of apps distributed outside the App Store will still be subject to a 0.50EUR Core Technology Fee. 

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The DMA forced Apple to allow app sideloading in the EU effective March 2024. Though Apple was originally planning for sideloaded apps to only be available through alternative marketplaces, the company announced in March that it would also allow apps to be downloaded directly from websites. 

As the DMA only covers the EU, the ability to sideload these apps is restricted to iPhone users living in the EU. Downloading apps directly from websites is only available on the iPhone, not the iPad. 

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