‘iOS 17.2 Hints at Sideloading Apps From Outside the App Store’

Filipe Espósito, with a nice scoop for 9to5Mac:

By analyzing the new API, we’ve learned that it has an extension endpoint declared in the system, which means that other apps can create extensions of this type. Digging even further, we found a new, unused entitlement that will give third-party apps permission to install other apps. In other words, this would allow developers to create their own app stores.

The API has basic controls for downloading, installing, and even updating apps from external sources. It can also check whether an app is compatible with a specific device or iOS version, which the App Store already does. Again, this could easily be used to modernize MDM solutions, but here’s another thing.

We also found references to a region lock in this API, which suggests that Apple could restrict it to specific countries. This wouldn’t make sense for MDM solutions, but it does make sense for enabling sideloading in particular countries only when required by authorities — such as in the European Union.

Makes sense. If Apple winds up being forced to allow sideloading in the EU, I think they will only allow it in the EU. Apple still has a pending appeal, but I doubt they’ll win, and the deadline for compliance is March of next year, which probably means iOS 17.3 or 17.4.

Friday, 10 November 2023