There's pressure -- both legal and otherwise -- on Apple to open up iOS and iPadOS to third-party app stores, freeing both customers and developers from Apple's iron grip.
But would you buy apps from a third-party app store?
As I see it, there are pros and cons, and when it comes to the end user, it's mostly cons.
A lot of potential pros are being suggested, from more choice to cheaper apps to an ethereal sense of "freedom" from Apples rules and regulations.
On the downside, there wouldn't be the curation that Apple carries out, and a rejection of apps that break the rules. Also, I suspect that moves such as making developers come clean about what they do with your data, or preventing them from tracking you across the web would likely get the chop.
What wouldn't change is what developers can do, since most of the safeguards as to what apps can and can't do are built into iOS.
Personally, I'm skeptical that a third-party app store would be good for end users. Sure, giving developers more flexibility over pricing would help them, but unless the new app store was curated to the same standards that Apple curates its App Store, I can't help but see it degrade into a cesspit of fart apps and nonsense.
Also, now that Apple is putting pressure on privacy and tracking, any third-party app store that didn't follow similar rules would become inundated by badware.
I can see why developers and advertisers -- and bad guys -- love the idea of an app store separate to Apple, but I'm having a tough time coming up with much in the way of end-user benefits, beyond promises of cheaper apps and a sense of not being tied to Apple.
I'm also having a hard time seeing the corporate world embrace third-party app stores on the iPhone, and I see them getting the same treatment that alternative app stores get on Android -- they get blocked.
But, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if Apple opens up the iPhone to third-party app stores, the real question is whether users will use them.
I couldn't see myself using them. I played with the Cydia app store many moons ago, but as the functionality built into iOS apps has increased, that became unnecessary for me a long time ago.
But the masses are easily swayed, and I can see the players who are upset by Apple's privacy measures or fee structure making a hefty push to get users to make the switch. And some certainly have the ability push such a store hard.
Would you download iPhone apps from a third-party store? Why/why not? Let me know in the comments below!