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Apple to let EU iPhone users download iOS apps straight from the web

Apple’s iOS web distribution for the EU is offering a lot more freedom for some and likely points the way for the future of the iPhone.

Custom image for Apple iOS web distribution news with various apps on a Red background

Apple will allow app developers to distribute their iOS apps directly from the web in an update coming “later this spring” but only to users in the EU. As EU competition rules have limited Apple’s ability to control how users get their apps, Apple’s iOS web distribution is likely a good way to stay on Brussels’ good side.

In a statement on its dev website, Apple confirmed the feature and its official name: Web Distribution. While this may make life easier for some, there are some limits. “Apps offered through Web Distribution must meet Notarization requirements to protect platform integrity, like all iOS apps,” the statement reads before continuing, “and can only be installed from a website domain that the developer has registered in App Store Connect.”

Apple also explained how this change affects the user experience, a big part of the iPhone vs. Android argument, as “users will first need to approve the developer to install apps in Settings on their iPhone” in order to download the apps from the web. “When installing an app, a system sheet will display information that developers have submitted to Apple for review, like the app name, developer name, app description, screenshots, and system age rating,” it continued.

So, while Apple may be allowing downloads directly from a developer, it’s not going to be a simple tap of the screen on the user’s end – so it’s unlikely to make a notable difference. While all these maneuvers to comply with the new EU rules may sound exciting, it’s clear Apple has no intention of adopting an Android-style open OS.

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Over the next few months, we’ll see how Apple’s iOS web distribution and all the new EU differences affect the user experience. Before then, why not check out the latest iPhone 16 rumors to get excited for the next handset? Or, if you’re more of an Android fan, see our guides to the best Samsung phones, best Xiaomi phones, and best Google Pixel phones.