No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN (2024)

No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN (1)

After many years of Apple keeping its ecosystem firmly locked down, cracks have started to appear in its famous walled garden, with the newly released iOS 17.4 allowing third-party app stores for the first time. However, access to these is only available to users within the European Union (EU) – and don’t expect to be able to get around the restriction using a VPN.

As spotted by 9to5Mac, Apple has uploaded a new support document that outlines how it will make sure that anyone who wants to access a third-party app store is physically located inside the EU.

First, you must have an Apple ID that's set to an EU member state. As well as that, there’s a geolocation check to ensure that you're physically located in one of those countries. Apple says it doesn’t collect your actual location, only an indicator of whether you're eligible to use third-party app stores or not.

Interestingly, the geolocation aspect of Apple’s restrictions implies that even the best VPN services won’t be able to bypass them. That’s because a VPN can change your IP address to fool a server into believing that you're located in a different country, but a geolocation check happens on the device itself (usually using GPS), and therefore can't be spoofed in the same way.

Apple might use other ways to check your location, and it already has a system in place that does just this. Also as found by 9to5Mac, this system looks up things like your rough location (on a nation level, not your exact location), your Apple ID billing address, the region you are using in the Settings app, and the type of device you’re using.

The app stores are coming

No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN (2)

Apple says that you will be able to access alternative app stores if you leave the EU for a brief “grace period,” but warns that if you’re “gone for too long, you’ll lose access to some features, including installing new alternative app marketplaces.” Apps you’ve installed will still work, but you won’t be able to update them. The company hasn’t said how long the grace period is.

Alternative app stores have only just been permitted, but one is already available to download. Called the Mobivention App Marketplace, this store is aimed at corporate customers who want a outlet for distributing their own business-focused apps. Other providers, like MacPaw, Epic Games and AltStore, have said they’ll be launching their own app stores soon.

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Apple didn’t give a reason for why it's going so far to ensure that only EU citizens can access third-party app stores, but one reason could be to clamp down on the idea spreading to users in other nations. For one thing, Apple has repeatedly said that third-party app stores to which access is being enforced by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) could be unsafe.

As well as that, they also represent a potential threat to Apple’s revenues – just one look at Apple’s onerous fees for developers who use third-party app stores shows you how worried Apple must be. While the company is being forced to open up in the EU, no other jurisdiction has followed suit, so it seems likely that Apple wants to contain the spread of alternative app stores as much as it can.

If you’re located inside the EU, you’ll be able to try out these new app stores pretty much straight away. If you’re not, all you can do is wait to see if Apple is forced to open up elsewhere.

You might also like

  • Here's what alternative iPhone app stores will look like – and how they'll work
  • Apple's big iOS and App Store changes explained – 7 things you need to know
  • Six new features coming to your iPhone with iOS 17.4 – here's what you need to know

No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN (3)

Alex Blake

Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.

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No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN (2024)


No, third-party iPhone app stores won't work outside Europe – even with a VPN? ›

That's because a VPN can change your IP address to fool a server into believing that you're located in a different country, but a geolocation check happens on the device itself (usually using GPS), and therefore can't be spoofed in the same way.

How do I fix my iPhone app not available in my country? ›

For iPhone:
  1. On your device, tap Settings > [your name] > iTunes & App Store.
  2. Tap your Apple ID, then tap View Apple ID. ...
  3. Tap Country/Region, then tap "Change Country or Region."
  4. Tap your new country or region, then review the Terms & Conditions.
  5. Tap Agree in the upper-right corner, then tap Agree again to confirm.

Can you use a VPN to download apps from other countries iOS? ›

Once you switch your app store country, a virtual private network (VPN) can help you access downloaded apps that may not be available in your current location. However, keep in mind that a VPN itself cannot switch the app store country since its location is tied to the App store account.

How do I access apps from another country on my iPhone? ›

Use your iPhone or iPad to change your region
  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap your name, then tap Media & Purchases.
  3. Tap View Account. ...
  4. Tap Country/Region.
  5. Select your new country or region.
  6. Tap Change Country or Region.
  7. Tap your new country or region, then review the terms and conditions.
Apr 11, 2024

How do I change my App Store country? ›

Change your Google Play country
  1. On your Android device, open the Google Play Store app .
  2. At the top right, tap the profile icon.
  3. Tap Settings General Account and device preferences. ...
  4. Tap the country where you want to add an account.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to add a payment method for that country.

How do I open an app that is not available in my country? ›

How to Download Android Apps Not Available in Your Country
  1. Make a Second Google Account to Change App Store Region. ...
  2. Change Country in Google Play Store Settings. ...
  3. Download APK Files for Apps from Other Countries.
Feb 4, 2023

How do I install apps on my iPhone without the App Store? ›

5 Ways to Download Apps on iPhone Without App Store
  1. Method 1. Access apps on iPhone directly from the Internet.
  2. Method 2. Use App Clips on iPhone without the App Store.
  3. Method 3. Install apps on iPhone from a third-party app store.
  4. Method 4. Get apps on iPhone without App Store by sideloading.
  5. Method 5.
Mar 7, 2024

How do I use VPN on App Store? ›

How to change the App Store country on different devices
  1. Sign up for an iOS-compatible VPN. ...
  2. Find the VPN in the Apple App store and download it.
  3. Pick a VPN server in any country you want.
  4. Disable your device's GPS tracking.
  5. Switch your Apple ID region.
  6. Explore any foreign App Store library you want!
Mar 8, 2024

Why can't i change my country on Play Store? ›

How To Change Google Play Country Manually
  • Open the Google Play Store app on your device.
  • Tap on the account icon in the top-right corner of your device.
  • There, select 'Settings'.
  • You'll see the menu there, tap on 'General'.
  • Then, tap on 'Account and device preferences'.
  • Scroll down to look for 'Country and profiles'.
Feb 29, 2024

What happens if I change App Store country? ›

What happens to paid Play Store apps on Android when you change country? As you have to configure your google account on your android phone the apps that you install or buy are synced with your google account so if you change the country the bought apps will still be there.

Do I need to change App Store country? ›

You can only use an App Store for a country where you are a legal resident, have a payment method issued by a bank in that country with a verifiable billing address in that country. You can't change countries just because you want apps only available in that country's app store.

Can I change the country of App Store more than once? ›

You also need to make sure you have a valid payment method and billing address for your new country. You'll need to add this payment method to your Apple ID account when you change countries. While you can change the iTunes or App Store country from any device, you only need to do it once.

Why is the app no longer available in the App Store? ›

Some of the most common reasons that apps get pulled include: Violating Apple's rules for how you can develop apps or how apps can function. Infringing copyright. Being very low quality.

Why can't I download apps on my iPhone? ›

Check the storage space on your iPhone

Insufficient storage space on your iPhone is the most likely cause of a new app not downloading on your iPhone. Apps are notorious for taking up a lot of room on your phone, as are photos.

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