Not too long ago, Apple conceded that it would have to allow the sideloading of apps on the iPhone, at least in the European Union. This development has reportedly frustrated Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture. Krstić claims there’s a “great misunderstanding” about sideloading.
Last year, the European Commission passed the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which requires gatekeepers — like Apple — to offer alternative app stores and payment methods on their platforms. The DMA went into full effect on May 2, 2023, and Apple is expected to comply with the regulation by March 2024, according to financial filings.
While the European Commission believes this will lead to fair competition, Apple and Krstić strongly disagree. In an interview with The Independent, Krstić says the idea that sideloading gives users an extra choice is false. According to Krstić:
That’s a great misunderstanding – and one we have tried to explain over and over. The reality of what the alternative distribution requirements enable is that software that users in Europe need to use – sometimes business software, other times personal software, social software, things that they want to use – may only be available outside of the store, alternatively distributed.
In that case, those users don’t have a choice to get that software from a distribution mechanism that they trust. And so, in fact, it is simply not the case that users will retain the choice they have today to get all of their software from the App Store.
In short, Krstić is not very happy about being forced to allow sideloading because people will be downloading apps from a place that’s less secure than Apple’s platform.
This isn’t the only change Apple will undergo in the future, as it plans to introduce RCS to iMessage in 2024 as well. This move was likely a reaction to the European Commission planning to look into whether the DMA should apply to iMessage.