Apple’s latest Xcode 7 update comes with a new policy that allows anyone to build and side-load apps onto their iOS devices. This opens the door to unauthorized iOS apps, such as emulators, which Apple has previously tried so hard to block.
The change gives anyone who downloads Xcode — which is totally free — the ability to build and install iOS apps onto their iPhones and iPads. According to iOS developer Steve Troughton-Smith, this applies to all apps, whether they’re written in Objective C or Swift.
The change essentially gives all users the same benefits you previously got only with a $99 a year developer account. About the only thing you can’t do without that account now, then, is submit apps to the App Store.
This is huge — particularly for those who like to run unauthorized apps on their iOS devices. Not only does it allow developers to distribute apps to anyone outside of the App Store, but it also gives users the ability to download apps from third-party sources, then install them manually.
Apps that wouldn’t be approved for the App Store could now be obtained elsewhere. It’s going to make it a whole lot easier to install things like emulators, torrent managers, and Popcorn Time, the so-called “Netflix for pirates” — which Apple has long been trying to block on iOS.
It’s not quite as simple as downloading a package and side-loading it, however — like it is when you side-load an Android app. You’ll need the actual source code for the app, which will then need to be compiled in Xcode, so only open source apps will be compatible.
This process could put some users off — and prevent users from downloading pirated apps and side-loading them. But for those who love playing retro games on the go, it’ll be well worth the effort.