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Comment: Apple’s rant against app sideloading on iOS contradicts itself thanks to macOS

Apple has been facing a huge battle with developers recently, as the company is accused of forcing strict rules on the App Store — the only way to deliver apps to iPhone and iPad users. While the company argues that app sideloading is a bad thing because it helps cybercriminals, macOS has always been based on having third-party apps installed from anywhere. So what is the problem?

During a keynote at Web Summit 2021, Apple’s vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi talked about security and privacy. Unsurprisingly, he compared the iPhone and iOS ecosystem with Android as a way of saying that Apple’s devices are more secure and less vulnerable.

Of course, the whole idea of Federighi’s speech argues in favor of the App Store guidelines, which have been widely criticized by multiple developers and companies. Apple’s SVP compared recent attempts to pass laws to open up the App Store and iOS to laws that attempt to “forces you to weaken the security of your home.”

Federighi repeatedly referred back to a house analogy during the event. He likened buying an iPhone to buying a “great home with a really great security system,” but then a new law gets passed that forces you to weaken the security of your home. “The safe house that you chose now has a fatal flaw in its security system, and burglars are really good at exploiting it,” Federighi said.

Apple’s software head then explicitly said that the process of sideloading apps is “cybercriminal’s best friend.” For those unfamiliar, sideloading apps is the process of manually installing apps on a device. Sideloading is not allowed on iOS (unless you have a jailbroken device), since all apps need to be distributed and installed through the App Store.

However, while iPhone and iPad have always had such restrictions, sideloading is completely allowed on Mac. Apple itself helps developers securely distribute Mac apps outside of the App Store through notarization, which basically provides a “certificate” for third-party apps to be allowed to run on macOS.

And yet, macOS also lets users choose to install any apps if they want to. Even so, Apple publicly states on its website how secure Mac and macOS are compared to Windows PCs. Unfortunately, when it comes to defending the App Store guidelines, the company prefers to throw the Mac under the bus and say that it “does not find acceptable” the level of malware for macOS.

I personally have never really missed sideloading on iOS, but I recognize that users should have the option to decide if they want to live with just the App Store apps or apps from other sources as well. At the end of the day, these decisions are more based on money than on anything else.

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