Apple Forced to Allow Sideloading on iPadOS in the EU

iPad Pro - iPadOS 17 compatible iPads

In a significant move by the European Union (EU), Apple’s iPadOS has been designated as a “gatekeeper” platform. It now requires Apple to implement changes that align with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) regulations. This decision follows the EU’s previous classification of iOS, the Safari browser, and the App Store as gatekeepers. The EU’s directive mandates that Apple must allow sideloading of applications on iPadOS within a six-month timeframe. This is to ensure compliance with the DMA obligations.

iPadOS 17

Expansion of DMA Regulations to iPadOS

The European Commission has extended the scope of the DMA to include Apple’s iPadOS platform. This marks the fourth Apple-owned service subject to these regulations. This expansion significantly increases regulatory scrutiny on Apple, compelling the tech giant to adapt its tablet ecosystem to comply with the DMA’s mandates. These requirements include allowing third-party app stores, supporting app sideloading, providing third-party payment options, and making non-WebKit versions of Safari available on iPadOS.

Compliance Deadline and Penalties

Apple faces a six-month deadline to adjust iPadOS to meet the DMA rules, failing which the company could incur substantial financial penalties. Non-compliant companies risk fines of up to 10% of their annual global revenue. The DMA aims to prevent gatekeepers from imposing unfair conditions on businesses and end-users, promoting openness in digital services.

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Impact on Users and Developers

The changes mandated by the EU will enable iPad users to download apps from alternative app stores, enhancing user choice and competition in the digital marketplace. Developers will have the opportunity to distribute their apps through various channels, providing users with a more diverse app experience. These adjustments aim to create a more open and competitive environment for both users and developers within the EU.

Apple iOS 16 iPadOS 16

Apple’s Response and Future Updates

Apple has expressed its commitment to engaging with the European Commission to comply with the DMA across all designated services. The company’s focus remains on delivering high-quality products and services to European customers while addressing the privacy and data security concerns posed by the DMA. It is anticipated that Apple will soon release updates for iPadOS to align with the new regulations and adjust its application distribution policies accordingly.


In conclusion, the EU’s classification of iPadOS as a gatekeeper and the requirement for sideloading represent a significant shift in Apple’s approach to app distribution on its tablets. These regulatory changes aim to foster competition, consumer choice, and fairness in the digital market landscape within the European Union.

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