iOS 17.2 and Sideloading: What the New Feature Offers Companies

With the introduction of iOS 17.2, Apple made a significant change within the EU: Apple enables the sideloading of apps. This is particularly relevant for companies that use mobile devices in their business processes.

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The sideloading feature in iOS 17.2 enables apps to be downloaded from alternative sources

With the sideloading feature, Apple is responding to pressure from the European Union, which requires users to be able to install apps from outside the App Store as part of the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This is intended to promote competition. Sideloading enables the installation of apps from third-party sources and ushers in a new era of app freedom on iOS devices. For companies, this means a potential expansion of available apps.

iOS 17 sideloading: What the New Feature Means for Companies

Sideloading in iOS 17.2 offers companies opportunities, but also poses new challenges:

  • Apple continues to strive for high security standards: Apps that are offered via alternative channels must undergo a strict notarization process. In addition, Apple requires app developers to provide a letter of credit. This offers companies a certain degree of security when sideloading.
  • Companies’ hopes of being able to distribute their own apps quickly and flexibly to iOS devices were dashed with the release of iOS 17.2. The new App Store guidelines show that Apple continues to play a decisive role in the provision of applications. For more information on the hidden pitfalls associated with sideloading, read our blog post: Revolution or Facade? Apple Allows Alternative App Stores
  • Even though Apple, as mentioned above, is doing a lot to increase the security of sideloading, special attention needs to be paid to the security of corporate data. This is the only way to ensure that no malicious apps land on corporate devices and thus create security gaps.
  • Another challenge lies in the management of apps that are not distributed via the official app store. IT departments need to ensure that they have effective management and control mechanisms in place to monitor the installation and updating of apps and ensure that only authorized apps are used on devices.
  • The sideloading feature has a region lock and restricts sideloading to countries in the EU. For international companies, this means that they must adapt their app strategy depending on their location.

Decisively Control Sideloading of iOS Apps with MDM

By using mobile device management (MDM), companies can minimize the security challenges associated with sideloading. MDM solutions allow companies to control the installation, distribution, and updating of apps on their employees’ devices and to implement and enforce security policies and configurations for the apps. For companies that use Cortado MDM, it has long been possible to allow or block sideloading on iOS devices by distributing IPA files.

As an EU software developer with extensive know-how and experience of secure management of mobile devices, Cortado offers its customers a secure and reliable MDM solution to responsibly handle sideloading in iOS 17. Already today, it is possible for organizations to easily and securely add self-developed iOS apps to iPhones and iPads.

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