Craig Federighi says sideloading would open 'Pandora's Box' on the iPhone

What you need to know

  • Craig Federighi gave a speech at Web Summit in Lisbon.
  • Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering talked about the dangers of sideloading apps.
  • Proposed legislation could potentially force Apple to open up sideloading on the iPhone.

Craig knows what's in the box.

Apple has long stood against the idea of allowing apps to be "sideloaded" onto the iPhone, and that stance hasn't changed one bit.

In a speech at Web Summit in Lisbon, Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, pushed back against proposed European legislation that could force the company to allow the practice. Federighi said that forcing Apple to allow sideloaded apps on the iPhone would open Pandora's Box.

Apple is particularly concerned about the Digital Markets Act, which CEO Tim Cook has previously said would result in Apple being forced to allow "sideloading," or the ability to install iPhone apps from the web instead of through Apple's App Store.

"European policymakers have often been ahead of the curve," Federighi said. "But requiring sideloading on iPhone would be a step backward. Instead of creating choice, it could open up a Pandora's Box of unreviewed malware and software."

Federighi said that sideloading would open up users to fraud and that, if they want to sideload apps, they should get an Android phone. While it is possible to do so on Android, even Google warns users of the dangers of doing so.

"Even if you have no intention of sideloading, people are routinely coerced or tricked into doing it," Federighi said, citing malware on Google's Android, which allows sideloading. Google warns users against doing so in system messages and pop-ups, however.

Federighi argued that although technically skilled people might be able to identify malware on the internet, their parents or children might still be fooled, making everyone's iPhone data less secure.

"The fact is one compromised device including a mobile phone can pose a threat to an entire network," Federighi said. "Malware in sideloaded apps can jeopardize government systems, affect enterprise networks, public utilities, the list goes on."

"That one provision in the DMA would force every iPhone user into a landscape of professional con artists constantly trying to fool them," Federighi said. He said users can choose between iPhones and Android phones that allow sideloading.

Sideloading an app basically bypasses an App Store. While Apple allows just that on devices like the Mac, the rest of its devices are locked inside the walled garden of the App Store.

Many users (and Apple) argue that this locked-down approach is a privacy and security feature that people appreciate, but Apple is facing growing pressure from governments about anti-trust because of its approach.