Apple Will Allow Users To Download iPhone Apps From Websites

Another major change is coming for EU iPhone users: the ability to download apps from websites.

TL;DR: Downloading of iPhone Apps From Websites

  • Web downloads: For the first time in the iPhone’s history, Apple will allow users to download apps from websites. 👩‍💻
  • The catch for users: You’ll need to be an iPhone user in the EU to do this. 📱
  • The catch for developers: You’ll need to meet several strict criteria to offer your iPhone app as a web download. 🤨
  • When’s it happening? Spring 2024. 📆

Earlier this month Apple released iOS 17.4. The relatively minor update had one big feature – for EU users: the ability for them to download apps from alternative app stores outside of Apple’s official App Store. But now Apple has announced it is going even further. The company will soon allow EU users to download iPhone apps directly from websites.

Apple made the announcement in a post on the company’s developer site this morning. As Apple wrote:

“Web Distribution, available with a software update later this spring, will let authorized developers distribute their iOS apps to EU users directly from a website owned by the developer. Apple will provide authorized developers access to APIs that facilitate the distribution of their apps from the web, integrate with system functionality, back up and restore users’ apps, and more.”


The move represents the first time in history that users will be able to download iPhone apps directly from a website instead of any app store. Apple is adding the ability for EU users to comply with elements of the Digital Markets Act, which went into effect in the European Union this month. Still, the move came as a surprise considering that Apple never mentioned it was working on such capabilities surrounding Digital Markets Act changes.

However, there are some big caveats to the latest changes. For starters, not just anyone will be able to host an iPhone app on their website for EU iPhone users to download. Apple is restricting web downloads of iPhone apps to select developers who must meet rigorous requirements before they are able to offer their apps via a website alone.

As Apple details on a developer support page:

“To be eligible for Web Distribution, you must:

  • Be enrolled in the Apple Developer Program as an organization incorporated, domiciled, and or registered in the EU (or have a subsidiary legal entity incorporated, domiciled, and or registered in the EU that’s listed in App Store Connect). The location associated with your legal entity is listed in your Apple Developer account.
  • Be a member of good standing in the Apple Developer Program for two continuous years or more, and have an app that had more than one million first annual installs on iOS in the EU in the prior calendar year.
  • Agree to, among other things,
    • Only offer apps from your developer account.
    • Be responsive to communications from Apple regarding your apps distributed through Web Distribution, particularly regarding any fraudulent, malicious, or illegal behavior, or anything else that Apple believes impacts the safety, security, or privacy of users.
    • Publish transparent data collection policies and offer users control over how their data is collected and used.
    • Follow applicable laws of the jurisdictions where you operate (for example, the Digital Services Act, the General Data Protection Regulation, and consumer protection laws).
    • Be responsible for handling governmental and other requests to take down listings of apps.”

As for why Apple is making developers meet these rigorous requirements, it likely has a lot to do with the safety of Apple’s iPhone users. If just anyone could host an iPhone app for download from their website, it would be easy for bad actors to make and distribute malicious apps to unsuspecting iPhone users.

As for those outside the EU hoping to be able to download iPhone apps from websites, there are no signs Apple will expand the ability past EU member country borders.

Michael Grothaus

Michael Grothaus is an American author and journalist with a flair for exploring the intersection of technology, creativity, and digital culture. With a background in film, journalism, and creative writing, he brings a unique perspective to the world of mobile technology. His work has been featured in renowned publications like Fast Company, The Guardian, and Engadget. At KnowYourMobile, Michael leverages his extensive knowledge to guide readers through the complexities of mobile devices, helping them make informed choices in the fast-paced tech landscape.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scroll to Top