On Sideloading of Apps on the iPhone — Again

Responding to a user asking for sideloading capabilities and multiple App Stores on the iPhone.

On Sideloading of Apps on the iPhone — Again

I wrote many times how bad I don’t want Apple to weaken the iPhone experience and security by adding the sideloading capability (read “A Message to Apple Developers: We Don’t Need Another Android Platform – Numeric Citizen Blog”). I recently came across a blog post from Mike Rockwell on my Micro.blog feed, which I want to response to by annotating his post. Mike wrote a link post in response to Marco Arment’s point of view regarding the danger of introducing sideloading of apps on the iPhone.

I don’t understand the argument that, if Apple allowed sideloading and third-party app stores, then companies like Facebook would pull all their apps from Apple’s App Store and release them exclusively on their own app store.

Well, you are probably right, but why open the door to those motherfuckers? We should know by now that we cannot trust them.  Because Facebook is having trouble keeping his ads business intact from the “do not track” feature enforced by Apple, they could try to piss them off by skipping the App Store, something they cannot do right now.

Facebook can already do this on Android and they haven’t. You can still get Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp in the Google Play Store and I don’t see any indications that this will change.

The App Store and the Apple ecosystem is a different beast. This could prompt Facebook to act differently. See my point above.

But maybe they do pull their apps and encourage the installation of their own app store, would that really be so bad?

Yes, it would be so bad! The vast majority of iPhone users don’t care to get their apps from one source. It’s part of the experience. It’s the iPhone identity. They take it for granted. We cannot infer anything from what’s happening on Android and apply this to what could happen on the iPhone ecosystem. If anything, it could be worst, as this is well documented that iPhone users are spending more than any other users on Android. They are valuable targets for those who are dreaming of garbage stores and other scams. Benedict Evans already wrote about how bad having multiple App Stores enables all sort of negative effects to the platform.

Would it really be so bad if Facebook made it more difficult to install their apps?

No. That would be a cool thing if anything. The harder it is to get Facebook, the better.

Sure, Facebook could allow for more surveillance capabilities, but there’s a lot Apple could do at the system level to prevent that.

Probably, but you know what, I would prefer to see Apple spend their resources on more constructive and creative ways than playing this endless mouse and cat game.

But the benefits of allowing third-party app stores and sideloading would be tremendous.

That’s something that is unproven. And for what kind of users this would be beneficial? If those users don’t like the iPhone as it is, why don’t they just switch to more “open” platforms like Android? Who’s forcing them to buy into the iPhone ecosystem? I’m a bit tired seeing complains like if they were forced to buy an iPhone.

Wouldn’t it be great if developers could distribute their apps directly to their users if they wanted to?

But, why? Who’s at the forefront here, the user or the developer? They already have the best way to distribute their apps. I’m paying Apple to inspect apps and prevent them as much as possible to introduce any sort of malicious code in my device. They are not perfect, but it is way better than sideloading. I don’t want the future where an anti-virus to be mandatory on my device. There is Windows for that and that’s enough.

Wouldn’t it be great if they could sell apps with upgrade pricing on iOS without having to wait for Apple to build in a mechanism for that?

Just look at the PC world, and we can clearly see a trend toward subscription models. We no longer own anything. Companies have a lot of pressure to build business models on recurring revenues, and subscriptions are more powerful in that respect than paying for upgrades. That being said, I think Apple should add this capability to the App Store as another means to sell software. I still think it would make a dent in the App Store universe, though.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a store like F-Droid available to find free and open source software?

Again, we’re talking about a minority of users here. Open source software is already part of millions of apps currently available on the App Store. I was an indie developer from 2009 to 2013, and I made use of many open source libraries. So, what? Why put the open source movement against the App Store model? Ask a PC user: when was the last time he or she installed a great and useful open source application on his or her linux PC? Was it worth it? Who’s using Linux on the desktop, by the way?

Now, if only Apple could relax a bit and change a few critical things about its App Store to kill some energy-hungry arguments like this one.