Phil Schiller warns that third-party app stores are dangerous for iPhone users

Apple Fellow Phil Schiller

The introduction of third-party iPhone app marketplaces in EU countries could be a major event Privacy and security issue for users, Apple researcher Phil Schiller warns, despite Apple's attempts to strengthen security before regulations take effect.

The EU Digital Markets Act forces Apple to open the iPhone to third-party digital stores in EU Member States, with the ability to sideload apps and alternative stores next to Apple's own App Store, starting in March 2024 with the iOS 17.4 update.

To prepare for the introduction of third-party storefronts, Apple has already outlined various ways to change fees, as well as security mechanisms that will help keep users safe. However, Apple cautions that it cannot protect against every eventuality.

App Store CEO and Apple employee Phil Schiller explained to Fast Company: “These new rules, while opening up new opportunities for developers, also bring new risks. There is no way around this. So we do everything we can. can minimize these risks.”

The introduction of a third-party store means there is a new way to install apps with malicious code on the iPhone, which can cause a lot of problems for end users. Apple's “walled garden” approach and App Store review process weed out these apps, with nearly 1.7 million applications rejected in 2022 for failing to meet privacy, security and content standards.

Since third-party stores may not have as stringent a verification process as Apple's, the iPhone maker has introduced various elements to enhance security, such as notarizing all apps before installing them on the iPhone. , regardless of the app store.

“We've put together more than 600 new APIs for developers to give them the tools to create a marketplace, install an app, and give the user control over the process,” Schiller said. “We've done a lot of work developing the core and we're going to continue to do that.”

Users will also see an information sheet with basic information about the application before installing it, and will also have more control over the choice of marketplace.

App security, but no content monitoring

However, Schiller adds that Apple's protective measures are limited: the company has no real control over the content of apps from alternative storefronts, since notarization does not verify the actual content, but only verifies the app's security and functionality. not malicious.

“Ultimately, there are things we don't allow in our App Store—things that we don't think would be safe or appropriate,” an Apple employee said. “We will not decide whether these other marketplaces will have the same conditions and restrictions.”

Although Apple has rules to prevent certain types of objectionable content from appearing on the App Store after years of input from families and governments, “these rules would not apply in another market unless they decide to set rules.” independently, with whatever criteria they come up with,” Schiller points out.

“Does this increase the risk that users and their families will be exposed to objectionable content or other experiences? Yes, it increases.”

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