Shocking! iOS 17 might bring app sideloading, but this iOS 16 feature MIGHT NOT let you use it

About a week ago, various reports suggested that Apple might finally introduce app sideloading with the iOS 17 update, which is expected to be announced at Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2023. This was considered a big watershed moment for Apple, as the company has kept a tight control on its platform’s app market, not allowing users to download any application which does not come from the App Store. But a new report has found a sneaky feature that was added with the iOS 16.2 update that may stop a majority of the users from accessing app sideloading.

It should be noted that so far, Apple currently uses hard-coding techniques to geo-lock certain features like FaceTime. What it means is that an iPhone manufactured or designed for a certain location will have this restriction and it is limited to the device and not the user’s actual location.

However, according to a report by 9to5Mac, Apple has now been testing a new system to restrict iOS features based on the users’ location. A new system, internally called ‘countryd’ was added to the iOS 16.2 update. The system is not currently active but it is believed that it can be used to restrict features for an iPhone user based on their current location instead of the region the smartphone belongs to.

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iPhone users may not get the app sideloading feature

As per 9to5Mac, the ‘countryd’ system “combines multiple data such as current GPS location, country code from the Wi-Fi router, and information obtained from the SIM card to determine the country the user is in”. This is how it can recognize where the user is actually located and turn off or on certain features.

The report suggests that a big reason why this is being added now is to comply with certain government regulations while not letting go of the control entirely. The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) went into effect on November 1, 2022, and it had a specific rule that affects how Apple runs its App Store. The rule essentially requires “gatekeeper” companies to open up their services and platforms to other companies and developers.

This means Apple will have to allow app sideloading in Europe. However, it can still not allow these features outside of Europe, where the majority of its user base exists.

It should be noted that this information is based on speculations and not on any official announcements. Whether Apple brings app sideloading with iOS 17 or not is certain. Similarly, the purpose of the abovementioned iOS 16 feature is also not confirmed. So, take this information with a pinch of salt.

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