In the ongoing debate over sideloading apps, Apple’s Head of Security Engineering and Architecture, Ivan Krstic, has shared his perspective. The European Union has taken a significant step by signing the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a move that, if approved, would force Apple to allow sideloaded apps. While some argue that sideloading apps could break Apple’s monopoly, providing users with more freedom and promoting a diverse app ecosystem, Krstic presents a contrary viewpoint.
The Digital Markets Act, introduced in the European Union, identifies major online “gatekeepers.” Gatekeepers meeting specific criteria must comply with rules that promote a fair business environment, encourage innovation, and benefit consumers. Compliance involves allowing third-party access and avoiding unfair practices, with penalties for non-compliance. In this context, Apple needs to adjust its app store practices to align with these rules, should the DMA be approved.
If Apple allowed sideloading, users could download third-party apps directly to their iPhones from any website. The European Commission argues that this step is necessary for fair competition, providing users with greater options in choosing and obtaining their preferred apps.
Apple faces debate over sideloaded apps, impacting user choice and security
However, Krstic challenges this notion by saying:
“That’s a great misunderstanding – and one we have tried to explain over and over. The reality of what the alternative distribution requirements enable is that software that users in Europe need to use – sometimes business software, other times personal software, social software, things that they want to use – may only be available outside of the store, alternatively distributed.”
“In that case, those users don’t have a choice to get that software from a distribution mechanism that they trust. And so, in fact, it is simply not the case that users will retain the choice they have today to get all of their software from the App Store.”
Krstić argues that Apple allowing sideloaded apps would compel European users to seek essential software from sources other than the App Store for business, personal, or social use. This would deprive users of the convenience of accessing trusted distribution channels and could potentially damage their confidence in the safety of the apps they download.
The controversy surrounding sideloading apps revolves around a dual concern. On one side, there are privacy issues, as users could face potential security risks when downloading third-party apps. Conversely, there are worries about monopolistic practices and the decline of user freedom.
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