In a significant development, Google has announced that its users can now sideload apps on the Android operating system. This new feature allows Android users to install third-party applications from sources other than the official Google Play Store. While this opens up possibilities for users, it also raises concerns about the inclusion of potentially malicious apps from third-party stores.
This move by Google comes as Apple, the maker of iPhones, has traditionally restricted the downloading of apps to only those available on its App Store. However, with the implementation of the Digital Markets Act in the European Union by 2024, Apple has reportedly been considering allowing users to sideload apps on iOS. Rumors suggest that the upcoming iOS 17.2 update might introduce this feature.
According to a report by the Independent, Apple is determined to strengthen its security measures and comply with impending regulations in the EU. Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, emphasized the company’s commitment to investing significantly in security. He addressed the possibility of Apple opening up the iPhone to third-party app stores and enabling sideloading.
It is worth noting that even if Apple decides to allow sideloading, the majority of users are expected to continue using the App Store. Sideloading would be an alternative choice for those who wish to take advantage of it. However, Apple believes that sideloaded apps from third-party sources may not offer the same level of security as the App Store.
Craig Federighi, another Apple executive, has also expressed concerns about sideloading, labeling it as a “cybercriminal’s best friend.” During a speech at WWDC 2023, Federighi acknowledged that Apple might have no choice but to comply with the EU regulations regarding sideloading and third-party app stores.
In an interview addressing user concerns, Ivan Krstić highlighted the misconception surrounding alternative distribution requirements. He explained that certain software crucial to European users, be it business or personal, may only be available outside the App Store. Hence, sideloading is essential to ensure users can access the software they rely on. Apple is committed to defending its users against threats, both familiar and severe, with this work.