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On Wednesday, Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering and probably its most recognizable spokesperson after Tim Cook, delivered a keynote at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Federighi’s message was clear: Don’t force us to add sideloading to the iPhone.
That message came in response to the Digital Markets Act (DMA) proposed last year in the European Union that would impose requirements on tech companies deemed to be “gatekeepers.” That includes the iOS App Store.
Federighi made it clear that Apple strongly opposes the DMA, saying “it would require us to take a step backward in our privacy and security journey.” He then went on to talk about the risk of requiring sideloading on iOS, painting a dire picture of the risk to ordinary users and their data. Federighi contrasted Apple’s stance with that of Android, suggesting it is far less secure because it allows sideloading.
“One security firm found more than 5 million attacks per month on its clients using another mobile platform,” Federighi said on stage. “But there’s never been this kind of widespread consumer malware attack on iOS. Never ever. So what’s the difference? Well, the single biggest reason is that other platforms allow sideloading.”
Look, it’s almost certainly true Android does have more malware, but it has little to do with sideloading. Despite the fact that Android allows sideloading, almost no one does. And Federighi knows that.
That’s the key. Apple is suggesting that sideloading would open a torrent of threats to the iPhone, but there are far more people with Android devices in the world, and almost none of them install apps directly — even though they could. Why would that be different on the iPhone?
The numbers around sideloading are fuzzy, but when Epic sued Apple last year over its control over the App Store, it flat out said that sideloading isn’t an effective way to distribute apps because users simply won’t jump through the hoops.
It’s a terrible experience. It’s too complicated, and Google requires you to click through a series of ominous warnings that would force most users to turn back. No one is accidentally sideloading apps.
The idea that people who are sophisticated and…