EU-Only App Sideloading

iOS Application Sideloading: Insights and Restrictions

With the global release of iOS 17.4, iPhone application sideloading has become an established fact. Just at this moment, we have discovered more details about application sideloading.

Criteria for iOS Application Sideloading

Smart individuals should be able to figure out that Apple is an international company. Without regional restrictions, users in China could easily get their hands on European versions of devices to enable application sideloading.

On the day when application sideloading was introduced, Apple issued a warning that there are specific restrictions for iOS application sideloading, including account regions and effective regions.


Firstly, the user’s Apple ID must belong to one of the EU Member States. Secondly, the device’s location must be within the territory of the 27 EU countries.

It is essential to note that if a user leaves the EU region for a short trip and exceeds a certain grace period, they will lose some functionality related to application sideloading.

For example, they may be unable to install new third-party app stores or update third-party apps, among other limitations.

This implies that even if Chinese users purchase a European version of the iPhone and have an Apple ID from an EU Member State, application sideloading will cease to work after a short period. Therefore, we cannot bypass Apple’s restrictions through this method.


To protect the integrity of the iOS ecosystem, Apple has put in a great deal of effort. As a MacBook user, I can understand why Apple is so afraid of application sideloading.

Mac computers also have an official App Store. However, because Mac supports sideloading, developers often upload stripped-down versions to the App Store and direct users to the official website to install the complete version.

Some apps completely ignore the official app store and only provide sideloaded versions – productivity software is essential, users will search for what they need themselves, why would Apple need to provide traffic?


Therefore, Apple is unlikely to ease restrictions on iOS easily, which not only means cutting off a revenue stream for Apple but also signifies that Apple can no longer effectively control the app ecosystem on iOS and target specific issues.

Let’s not forget, even close partners like miHoYo are secretly trying to bypass Apple’s payment channels to reduce their “Apple tax” expense, let alone other major companies.

iPads Do Not Support Application Sideloading

It is also important to note that currently, application sideloading is only applicable to the 27 EU countries and exclusively supported by iPhones. iPads, which are closely related, are not within the coverage area.

At first glance, the lack of support for sideloading on iPads may not seem significant.


For developers, developing an app that can be made available on the official app store for iOS, iPadOS, and even macOS by simply adapting it slightly seems feasible.

However, applications sideloaded only support the iOS platform and do not sync with iPadOS. This means sacrificing the seamless multi-device experience for Apple fans, and also results in developers losing a significant portion of users.

Additionally, according to Apple’s regulations, if an app is available on both the official app store and third-party stores, both channels must pay a “first-time installation” technical service fee—approximately 0.5 euros per installation.


In summary, for developers, embracing application sideloading is akin to “choosing the dark over the light,” leading them down a path of high operating costs. With fewer users, higher operational costs, and a poorer user experience, the decision is not a difficult one.

It is likely that only apps rejected by the App Store or game developers in conflict with Apple would have the motivation to create sideloaded applications.


In conclusion, although iPhone has opened up application sideloading, there are many unreasonable and even unfriendly restrictions – indicating Apple’s reluctance.


Application sideloading has indeed been a product of Apple’s compromise. Some major players have already started preparing to develop third-party stores, such as Germany’s Mobivention, Epic Games which has long-standing grievances with Apple, and MacPaw, the developer of CleanMyMac X.

As for the outcome, it is still too early to tell, so let us continue to observe.

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