Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports in his Power On newsletter that iPhone users in the EU will be able to download and install apps from sources other than Apple's App Store beginning in the first half of 2024.
Apple is making this modification to comply with the European Union's new Digital Markets Act (DMA), which goes into force on November 1st, 2022. According to the rules of this, "gatekeeper" corporations like Apple must offer up their services and platforms to other companies and developers.
Sideloading allows users to install programs to their devices that have been downloaded straight from a website or developer, as you would on a PC or Mac, or via a third-party app store, such as Amazon's Appstore, which first released for Android in 2011.
Apple has historically been opposed to users being able to sideload apps, having published a document titled "Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps" that goes into detail on why the App Store's control is beneficial, and why third-party app stores and sideloading pose a security risk.
The deadline for compliance with the EU's DMA is March 6, 2024, therefore Apple is expected to implement these adjustments before that date.Microsoft has already modified Windows 11 to allow third-party app store integration, while Android has always supported sideloading.
Apple's fees for developers selling through the App Store have long been contentious, frequently leading to increased subscription pricing on iOS for this reason. It's unclear how Apple will handle sideloading, but the upgrade that would enable it will contain a "highly controlled system."