Thank EU very much! Apple’s iPad now has to follow the same app sideloading rules as iPhone

iPad Air 5
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The EU has been on a bit of a warpath against Apple — one that we are all thankful for with the big shift to USB-C for iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, alongside app sideloading becoming a requirement for said slabs. Though, the latter of those is sadly just EU-only (for now).

And now, as reported by Bloomberg, the Union has brought the hammer down on the iPad too. In its latest ruling, the tablet line has been considered a “gateway device” under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which means Apple now has 6 months to allow app sideloading and the option to uninstall first-party apps on iPadOS.

The countdown begins 

finger about to touch Apple App Store icon on iPhone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The EU’s DMA rules have torn down the rules on Apple’s walled garden since March 7, as it has forced the company’s hand to add app sideloading to the iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, the team has tried to make it as awkward as possible to do so, but you can get a third-party app store and download apps from them.

And now, the iPad has been added to the EU’s ever growing list of “gateway” products — devices that aren’t specifically covered by the firm wording of the rules, but come close enough to count. 

"iPadOS constitutes an important gateway on which many companies rely to reach their customers," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager commented. 

EU're on your own

This ruling means that Apple now has six months to make these changes — to make it clearer for users to select their favorite browser and search engine, and allow for app sideloading (the reported cause of the company’s change to allowing emulators on the app store).

That’s not to say Apple is going down without a fight, as a lawsuit has been filed with the EU’s General Court to argue some of the details of it. The main one being that its walled garden is critical to not have its security undermined.

But somehow, since it didn’t work before, I don’t think it’ll work this time. The “gatekeeper” companies (Apple, Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, Microsoft and ByteDance) are all feeling the brunt of this, and I can only hope this movement goes global to vastly increase the value and compatibility of the devices we all carry.

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Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.