Looking at what else you can do with the devices you own in an unofficial capacity can always be tempting, but due to an upcoming European law, there are reports that Apple is reportedly working on a way to allow alternative App Stores to be installed.
According to Mark Gurman’s report at Bloomberg (opens in a new tab), this means that other storefronts such as Steam, Amazon, Microsoft and others may be allowed to offer individual stores and install apps through it, just like the App Store. This means developers can take 100% of the revenue while having more control over what the app can access, such as more graphics power and more control over what your Apple device offers.
But developers such as Riley Testout (opens in a new tab) and Shane Gill (opens in a new tab) has been developing an alternative for years, called Everything Store (opens in a new tab). It offers apps to “sideload”, which means downloading apps onto your Apple device without using the App Store that wouldn’t be allowed by Apple, such as emulators and virtualization software to easily run Windows XP on an iPad, for example.
The best thing Apple can do, if this is indeed the way it’s going down, is to take inspiration from the Alt Store and show that this route isn’t the end of safety and security on your Apple device — instead, it’s an opportunity for everyone.
The alternative is a tempting prospect for developers
Playing GameCube on my iPad Pro is so incredibly cool. Thank you so much @DolpinforiOS 😍 pic.twitter.com/WMn8eC4Fuq4 May 2020
When the Alt Store first launched around 2020, I was curious and wanted to see how well a few games I own from Sony’s PlayStation console would run on my 2018 12.9-inch iPad from an emulation app offered on the Alt Store, and they ran flawlessly. I had my 8BitDo controller connected to the device, and after connecting the tablet to my TV, it was as if I was playing these games through Sony’s original console.
Almost three years later, Apple may allow this in one way or another when iOS 17 reportedly arrives next year. Granted, this is mainly due to upcoming European laws that may require Apple to do this anyway, but it’s still good to see that this is reportedly being worked on by the company.
On a Mac for example, there’s no problem installing apps that aren’t part of the App Store, largely due to the fact that it’s a device and an operating system that’s been around as long as the original Macintosh back in 1984. would have been a major criticism if you couldn’t allow non-App Store apps to be installed on an Apple Silicon Mac, due to the fact that users have been able to do this for years.
Security and privacy are the values that Apple has held dear with iOS for years, and rightly so. But as the Alt Store has proven, it could unlock stifled innovation along with a bigger payoff for developers if they could use code libraries previously exclusive to Apple’s teams.
Testut has too given a good argument on Twitter (opens in a new tab) for why this is good news for developers, and I agree. It’s a compromise to offer developers another option for what the App Store has been since its debut in 2008, and while I don’t expect emulators to be allowed regardless of whether these changes come in 2023, there’s an interesting future ahead for Apple’s devices that totality.