I’ve never been fearful of installing malware on my Mac. Since I transitioned from Windows in 2006, my wife, her parents, her sister, and my sister have transitioned too. None of them run any anti-virus or anti-malware software and none of them have run into any issues beyond some questionable Chrome browser extensions.
Apple is clinging to this narrative that users will be in danger of installing nefarious software on their iPhone and that, somehow, the App Store prevents that. But it’s a lame excuse to retain power over the platform.
The App Store is filled with casino-like games that are designed to separate you from your money and applications that deceive users into allowing permissions that aren’t in their best interest. How exactly is this keeping users safe?
Meanwhile, on the Mac, they’ve made it so cumbersome to install unsigned applications, that even if a user inadvertently installed a nefarious app, they likely wouldn’t be able to launch it. These restrictions warrant their own criticisms for sure, but that’s a separate issue.
Think about Shortcuts — you can, today, add an untrusted shortcut to your device that you can give access to your contacts, your location, your health data, and the ability to perform actions like sending messages and a slew of other potentially dangerous things. Have you heard of anyone in your life that installed a malicious shortcut?
Apple only allows us to install shortcuts through iCloud links now, which also warrants some criticism. But if there was a nefarious shortcut in the wild, Apple could shut it down. Why can’t Apple add the ability to install only signed, side-loaded applications? This would give developers the ability to build applications that are outside of the App Store’s guidelines and let Apple retain their ability to shutdown a nefarious app to “protect” us.
The only one that stands to lose anything in this scenario is Apple and that’s why they’re doing everything they can to convince us that side-loading is inherently bad. But they’re wrong.