Apple's Phil Schiller Discusses Risks of Alternative App Stores on iPhone
Starting with iOS 17.4, currently in beta, Apple is allowing alternative app marketplaces on the iPhone in the EU. Apple made this change to comply with new regulations under the EU's Digital Markets Act, which takes full effect next month.
In an interview with Fast Company's Michael Grothaus published today, Apple's former marketing chief and current App Store head Phil Schiller said there are privacy and security risks associated with these alternative app marketplaces:
"These new regulations, while they bring new options for developers, also bring new risks. There's no getting around that. So we're doing everything we can to minimize those risks for everyone," Schiller told me in a recent discussion about the privacy and security impact of the European Commission's Digital Markets Act.
One of these risks is the potential for users to download malicious or unsafe apps, although Apple will be notarizing all apps through a combination of automated processes and a basic human review in order to prevent these apps from being available on alternative app marketplaces as much as possible. Still, Apple has said notarization will not be as thorough as its App Store review process and guidelines that developers must adhere to.
Another risk is that the App Store's strict rules surrounding objectionable content might not extend to alternative app marketplaces, according to Schiller:
"We have dealt with a lot of input from families, from governments, on things that we need to do to try to either not allow certain kinds of objectionable content on our App Store, or give users control over that experience to decide what’s best for themselves—and we have rules around that," Schiller says. "Those rules will not apply in another marketplace unless they choose to make rules of their own, [with] whatever criteria they come up with. Does that increase the risk of users, and families, running into objectionable content or other experiences? Yes, it does."
Schiller's comments reiterate many of the risks that Apple outlined on its website:
If not properly managed, alternative distribution poses increased privacy, safety, and security risks for users and developers. This includes risks from installing software from unknown developers that are not subject to the Apple Developer Program requirements, installing software that compromises system integrity with malware or other malicious code, the distribution of pirated software, exposure to illicit, objectionable, and harmful content due to lower content and moderation standards, and increased risks of scams, fraud, and abuse. Apple has less ability to address these risks, and to support and refund customers regarding these issues. Even with safeguards, many of these risks remain.
The full interview can be read on Fast Company's website.