Apple Says iOS is Safer Than Android Because Sideloading Apps Isn't Allowed

In response to the European Commission's proposed Digital Markets Act, which could force sideloading of apps on the iPhone in Europe, Apple has shared an in-depth document highlighting the security and privacy risks of sideloading. Sideloading refers to installing apps outside of the App Store, such as from a website or a third-party app store.

app store blue banner
Apple's document, titled Building a Trusted Ecosystem for Millions of Apps, states that "mobile malware and the resulting security and privacy threats are increasingly common and predominantly present on platforms that allow sideloading." For example, Apple cited Nokia's 2019 and 2020 Threat Intelligence Reports that found Android devices to have an "estimated 15 to 47 times more infections from malicious software" than iPhones.

Android smartphones are the most common mobile malware targets and have recently had between 15 and 47 times more infections from malicious software than iPhone. A study found that 98 percent of mobile malware targets Android devices. This is closely linked to sideloading: In 2018, for example, Android devices that installed apps outside Google Play, the official Android app store, were eight times more likely to be affected by potentially harmful applications than those that did not.

On the other hand, Apple claimed that malware on iOS is rare and said that many of the attacks on the platform are "narrowly targeted attacks, often carried out by nation-states." Apple added that "experts generally agree that iOS is safer compared to Android, in part because Apple does not support sideloading."

Apple said if it were forced to allow sideloading, users would be subjected to more malicious apps and have less control over apps after they download them onto their devices. Apple added that some proposed sideloading legislation would also mandate removing protections against third-party access to proprietary hardware elements and non-public operating system functions, resulting in security and privacy risks for users.

Apple added that even users who don't wish to sideload and prefer to download apps only from the App Store would be harmed if sideloading were required, as some users may have no choice other than sideloading an app they need for work, school, or other essential reasons. In addition, Apple said criminals may trick users into sideloading apps by mimicking the appearance of the App Store or by advertising free or exclusive features.

Apple touched on many of these arguments in a similar document shared back in June. Apple CEO Tim Cook previously claimed that sideloading apps "would destroy the security of the iPhone" and "a lot of the privacy initiatives that we've built into the App Store."

Apple's document goes on to provide examples of common malware affecting mobile platforms like Android and makes more arguments against sideloading.

Apple has faced increasing scrutiny over its App Store, which remains the only place to install apps on the iPhone and iPad, excluding devices that have been jailbroken. Fortnite creator Epic Games sued Apple last year for anticompetitive conduct, but it was unsuccessful in getting the court to force Apple to allow third-party app stores on iOS.

Top Rated Comments

davidako Avatar
8 months ago
And prison is safer than free society because there are far fewer traffic accidents
Score: 50 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bviktor Avatar
8 months ago

totally false claim.
To anyone lacking basic logic. Apple is just stating the obvious here.

Does having the ability to install _any_ app from _any_ unchecked source reduce security?

In what parallel universe is the answer "no"?
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macsorcery Avatar
8 months ago
disingenuous claim.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tann Avatar
8 months ago
It's not in anyone but Apple's interest to have so many restrictions.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
8 months ago
Apple users are 50 times more likely to be mugged walking on a city street than they are walking inside an Apple store. Apple should only allow its users to walk inside their stores.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ksgant Avatar
8 months ago
Well, considering many of the Android malware that has plagued the platform in the past wasn't sideloaded at all, but directly from the Google Play Store...so not sure sideloading is the main problem here. Certainly a vector, but not the main one.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iPhone 12 v Android 2020

Apple CEO: 'Buy an Android Phone' If You Want to Avoid the App Store

Wednesday December 8, 2021 2:00 am PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently explained the circumstances in which users should purchase an Android phone instead of an iPhone, encouraging users who want to download apps from anywhere on the internet instead of the App Store to "buy an Android phone." Speaking at The New York Times "DealBook" summit last month, Cook explained that sideloading, the practice of downloading and installing...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

U.S. Bills Allowing Sideloading Would Cause Consumers to Be Hit With 'Malware, Ransomware, and Scams,' Says Apple

Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:42 am PST by
U.S. bills that would require major changes to the App Store would ultimately cause consumers to be targeted with malware, ransomware, and scams, Apple's Senior Director of Government Affairs Timothy Powderly said in a letter that was sent today to the Senate Judiciary Committee and that was obtained by MacRumors. Apple sent the letter as the Judiciary Committee prepares to consider the Amer...
safari icon blue banner

iOS 15.4 Beta Suggests Apple to Support Push Notifications From Web-Based Apps

Tuesday February 1, 2022 2:56 am PST by
Apple is working on bringing web-based notifications to iOS, addressing a long-time concern of developers of web-based apps who have been unable to send notifications to users on Apple mobile devices, severely limiting the user experience and effectiveness of apps made on the web. With the first betas of iOS and iPadOS 15.4 released last week, Apple added a "Push API" toggle in the...
european parliament

EU Provisionally Agrees on Law That Would Force Apple to Allow Alternative App Stores, Sideloading, and iMessage Interoperability

Friday March 25, 2022 4:46 am PDT by
European lawmakers have provisionally agreed upon a new law that would force Apple to allow user access to third-party app stores and permit the sideloading of apps on iPhones and iPads, among other sweeping changes designed to make the digital sector fairer and more competitive. The European Council and European Parliament said on Friday they had reached a political agreement on the...
app store blue banner

New U.S. Antitrust Bill Would Require Apple and Google to Allow Third-Party App Stores and Sideloading

Wednesday August 11, 2021 12:17 pm PDT by
New bipartisan antitrust legislation that targets Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store was today introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn, and Amy Klobuchar. The Open App Markets Act [PDF] is meant to create "fair, clear, and enforceable rules" that will protect competition and strengthen consumer protections. According to the three senators, Apple and Google...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Apple to Collect 27% Commission on Third-Party App Payment Systems in the Netherlands

Friday February 4, 2022 3:16 am PST by
Apple says it will take 27% commission on purchases made in dating apps through third-party payment options in the Netherlands, in compliance with a Dutch regulatory ruling. In an update on its developer support site, Apple said it would collect 27% commission instead of its usual 30% on transactions made in dating apps that use alternative payment methods. Apple says the decreased...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Dutch Regulator Says Apple's Plan for Third-Party In-App Payments is Insufficient, Fines Apple 5 Million Euros

Monday January 24, 2022 6:33 am PST by
The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has ruled that Apple's plan to allow App Store dating apps to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases does not sufficiently meet the requirements of a previous ruling. As a result, the ACM has hit Apple with an initial 5 million euro fine as a consequence, and fines will continue to be assessed at 5 million euros per week up to a...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Upcoming EU Sideloading Bill Would 'Cripple the Privacy and Security Protections' iPhone Users Expect, Says Apple

Thursday March 17, 2022 10:38 am PDT by
The European Union is set to introduce new legislation as soon as this month that would significantly affect how the App Store operates in Europe, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Digital Markets Act has been in development for some time and the finalized version that could be completed as soon as this month will allow for sideloading and alternate app store options. Apple will be...

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...