iPhone sideloading battle was pointless at best, harmful at worst


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Apple put up a lengthy fight against being forced to allow iPhone sideloading – the ability for owners to install apps directly from a developer’s website, in the same way we can a Mac app.

The company even went as far as arguing that Macs weren’t safe from malware because users can download apps directly. But ultimately the battle was pointless, and may even have been harmful …

Apple’s fight against sideloading

Apple has been facing growing antitrust pressure for years regarding the App Storewithin the US as well as elsewhere. Currently, if you want to sell an iPhone app, you can only do so through the App Store. Apple gets full control over what apps you can and cannot sell, for reasons that often appear arbitrary, and how much commission you must pay to Apple for the privilege.

It has long looked like the company would eventually be required by law to allow third-party app stores, sideloading, or both. Yet Apple has fought hard against both ideas.

Back in 2021, for example, when a bipartisan bill was announced in the US, Apple published a 16-page report that argued that only the company’s own app store could keep iPhone owners safe from scams and malware.

In the report, Apple takes readers on a guided tour of the potential dangers of life without the App Store by detailing the protection the App Store puts into place to prevent unauthorized purchases from children, the protection that Apple gives to your personal photos and videos from prying apps, and the possibility that you could be paying for pirated versions of apps without knowing it.

The company’s privacy head Eric Neuenschwander went as far as suggesting that iPhone users who wanted to continue to use the official App Store could be fooled into using third-party ones.

Even users who intend—they’ve consciously thought themselves that they are only going to download apps from the App Store—well, the attackers know this, so they’re going to try to convince that user that they’re downloading an app from the App Store even when that’s not happening.

Apple’s software head Craig Federighi went even further, throwing the Mac under the bus in the…