Your iPhone could soon get a powerful new feature that Android's had for years

App store logo on iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline)

Apple is expected to enable app sideloading, allowing iPhone users to install apps from sources outside of the official App Store in iOS 17 – according to a new report. This follows the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which requires that platform operators allow apps from third-party developers.

The report comes from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, writing in the latest PowerOn Newsletter. Gurman noted that “Apple is working to overhaul the software to open up the iPhone to sideloading – the downloading of apps outside of its official store – to comply with new European regulations by next year.”

Android – iOS’s only viable competitor – already allows users to install apps from third-party stores with only a few taps. Though Gurman does not share the specifics of Apple’s plans, it’s likely that it would implement a similar policy. 

Other features claimed to be coming with iOS 17 include updates to services including CarPlay, Siri, and Messages. Other changes are said to bring improvements specifically to newer iPhones – such as the iPhone 14 Pro and its Dynamic Island – and enable rumored new camera features on the upcoming iPhone 15 handsets.  

 If EU say so 

The move comes as Apple is expected to shift its iPhones from using its proprietary Lightning cable to USB-C. The EU has made several regulatory moves that – though aimed at technology manufacturers in general – particularly affect Apple, due to hardware and software choices the company has made over the years, especially with regards to iOS and iPadOS. 

If these various rumors pan out, not only will the iPhone 15 range use the same connector as every modern Android phone or Windows laptop, users will also be able to download apps from non-Apple websites, or even a rival app store.

These changes would make Apple’s 2023 iPhones markedly different beasts from their 2022 predecessors. With choice in the Android phone market dwindling – as some big Chinese brands begin to opt for China-only launches (like the Oppo Find X6 series) – Apple may be positioned to attract customers who would otherwise contemplate buying one of the best Android phones instead of the best iPhone.

Michael Allison
Staff Writer, Phones

A UK-based tech journalist for TechRadar, helping keep track and make sense of the fast-paced world of tech with a primary focus on mobile phones, tablets, and wearables.

When not writing on TechRadar, I can often be found reading fiction, writing for fun, or working out.