Apple has been under a mountain of scrutiny lately from legislators, developers, judges, and users. This is especially since a newly proposed European law known as Digital Markets Act (DMA) has been pushing the tech company to allow sideloading on Apple’s iOS.
Sideloading is the process of downloading and installing apps on a mobile device from a source other than the official App Store, such as a website or third-party app store. Standing firm that sideloading threatens user’s security and privacy, Apple has designed the iPhone to not allow sideloading for everyday users, and no law is going to change that decision.
In a research paper by Apple, the company found that a sideloaded game bypasses parental controls, scam users and violates users privacy by retrieving sensitive data and information without the user’s permission.
This is of concern for Apple who has been revving up its user privacy for the past couple of years. Most recently, the company introduced a new feature called App Tracking Transparency in the 14.5 iOS update that doesn’t allow apps to track user data and more. Within the App Store itself, Apple holds strict guidelines on privacy, security and safety and reviews every app that come their way. 100,000 new apps and updates are reviewed every week on average via App Review, with the safest apps only made available on the App Store for Apple users.
In conversation with Brut, Apple CEO Tim Cook even said that sideloading is not in the “best interests of the user”.
He adds, “That would destroy the security of the iPhone and a lot of the privacy initiatives that we’ve built into the App Store where we have privacy nutrition labels and app tracking transparency, where it forces people to get permission to track across apps. These things would not exist anymore except in people that stuck in our ecosystem and so I worry deeply about privacy and security.”
What that would mean for the company should European laws press harder on passing DMA remains to be seen. Until then, Apple is standing firm against sideloading and pushes to protect user privacy via the App Store, App Review and other initiatives.