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Apple is bringing sideloading and alternate app stores to the iPhone

A black-and-white graphic showing the Apple logo
Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

The iPhone’s app ecosystem is about to go through its biggest shake-up since the App Store launched in 2008. Today, Apple announced how it plans to change the rules for developers releasing iOS software in the European Union in response to the bloc’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) coming into force in March. The big news is that third-party app stores will be allowed on iOS for the first time, breaking the Apple App Store’s position as the sole distributor of iPhone apps. The changes will arrive with iOS 17.4 in March.

Here’s how the new “alternative app marketplaces,” as Apple called them, will work. Users in the EU and on iOS 17.4 will be able to download a marketplace from that marketplace’s website. In order to be used on an iPhone, those…

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