According to Tim Cook, app sideloading could be more dangerous than hackers and third-party cookies when it comes to your privacy.
Cook highlighted risks that come along with app sideloading for iPhones during a global privacy summit. He argues that app sideloading gives a leeway for users to rely on unregulated app stores for the iOS.
App sideloading refers to the process of installing an app in the iOS App Store Package(ipa) format into an Apple device. It is usually done through a signing service for iOS devices.
A user can also install an app using programs like Impactor or Xcode instead of the conventional app download from Apple AppStore.
App sideloading is currently the only way iPhones can download third-party apps. It allows users to access content banned from the official app stores.
In his IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2022 keynote speech, Tim Cook criticized and condemned active legislative efforts forcing Apple to allow app sideloading for iPhones.
Tim says, “Proponents of these regulations argue that no harm would be done simply by giving people a choice. But taking away a more secure option will leave users with less choice, not more.”
App sideloading risks
Based on Tim Cooks submission during the summit, app sideloading undermines all the efforts the company has spent to protect users of the iOS App Store.
He argues that sideloading is being used by policymakers to take steps in the name of competition that would force Apple to let apps that circumvent the App Store into iPhones.
This will give a leeway for data-hungry apps to bypass Apple privacy rules and track iOS users against their will.
“It would also potentially give bad actors a way around the comprehensive security protections we put into place, putting them in direct contact with our users,” he added.
Tim used Google’s Android operating system as an example to prove his point. Allowing users to download and install apps from third parties facilitate rapid spreading of Android malware.
This would not be the case if users we allowed to install apps from the Google Play store only.