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Apple, known for its tightly controlled app distribution system, may be loosening its grip on the walled garden with the introduction of sideloading apps on iPhones in iOS 17. Renowned tech journalist Mark Gurman, in his newsletter, mentioned that Apple is revamping its software to facilitate sideloading, and there may be an announcement related to this at the upcoming Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) scheduled for June.

This potential move by Apple comes in the wake of changing regulations in Europe. The EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA), set to be enforced in 2024, mandates that big tech companies must allow alternative app stores on their platforms, giving developers and users more choices for app distribution. This regulatory change may have prompted Apple to reconsider its stance on sideloading.

However, it remains uncertain whether Apple will actually enable sideloading with iOS 17, or if it is merely laying the groundwork for such functionality in the future. The company has not provided an immediate comment on the Bloomberg report.

Notably, Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook and software engineering head Craig Federighi, have long been vocal in their opposition to sideloading, citing concerns about privacy and security. Nevertheless, with the potential changes in regulations and increasing demands from developers and users for greater app distribution options, Apple may be reevaluating its stance.

In addition to the potential for sideloading, Bloomberg’s report also mentioned that Apple will announce updates to its other operating systems, including iOS, macOS, and tvOS, with incremental updates expected. However, the report suggested that watchOS may see a significant design overhaul, indicating possible major changes in Apple’s wearable device ecosystem.

All eyes will also be on Apple’s rumored unveiling of its first XR headset, which is expected to focus on developers at launch. Alongside this, Apple may release a new operating system and a software development kit (SDK) that will provide developers with the tools to create apps for this anticipated headset.

As the tech world eagerly awaits the announcements at WWDC, the potential introduction of sideloading apps on iPhones in iOS 17 may mark a significant shift in Apple’s app distribution strategy, and developers and users alike will be closely watching for further updates from the Cupertino-based company.