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Keeping our data safe is much more important than pointing fingers at the other guy

Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect (Image credit: Jerry Hildenbrand / Android Central)

Almost everything you read about how bad Android is when it comes to protecting your personal data is a lie. Maybe lie is a strong word here, but these types of anecdotes always seem to ignore things like Google Play Protect and instead try to tell you that using Android is a sure-fire way to give all your information to some hacker in a foreign country. Every Android phone with Google services, from the cheapest handset to the best Android phone, is protected no matter where you get your apps.

While most of this sort of thing comes from regular people with regular writing jobs, sometimes Big Tech does it, too. Case in point: Apple is trying every trick in the book to beat out Epic Games over the whole Fortnite mess. Yeah, you thought that it was finished. Not by a long shot. To bolster its idea that sideloading applications outside of the official Apple App Store is the devil, it has produced a 31-page manifesto (opens in new tab) telling us the dangers of sideloading apps.

You'll probably either read this or read excerpts from it on your favorite tech blog, but you don't really need to do that because it just regurgitates the same things Apple has been saying since Android took away its market dominance: sideloading is bad, millions of people suffer, and Apple is looking out for the best interests of humanity by not allowing it.

iPhone 13 Pro Max

Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Apoorva Bhardwaj / Android Central)

Some of what Apple says here is true. Some of it is bullshit. A lot of what's left is easily mitigated by Google's Play Protect, which scans every single app installed on your phone from any source. But that's not what's important here. What is important, at least to me, is how Apple doesn't tell us how to make this any better. Instead, it is saying the only way to protect us is to not allow a practice many iOS users would love to have.

This position infuriates me. I understand that there are different divisions working on different things at both Apple and Google, but hearing one team tell me the other team can't find a solution is just a huge cop-out that I refuse to accept. And yes, Google does this sort of thing too, even if it's not this blatant and obvious.

I can put this whole sideloading argument to bed in just three sentences:

  1. Sideloading can be good for users if you pay attention to what you are doing. If you don't feel like paying attention, the right thing to do is just use the app store installed on your phone.
  2. Sideloading is bad for Google's and Apple's bank accounts.
  3. Android was designed with sideloading in place and has plenty of services to mitigate security issues. iOS was not.

What I can't fix, and apparently, neither can Apple, is how to mitigate the issues that sideloading on iOS would bring. Not too long ago, I would have told you that you should stick to Google Play when it comes to getting apps for your phone. However, Google has done a lot of work to address the problems that can arise when you do sideload an app with malicious code in it, and today, it's not really an issue unless you install apps from some shady website that deals in piracy.

Fortnite Installation on Samsung

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

This is something Apple needs to be thinking about. How is it going to address this if and when (yes, I think it will happen within the next five years) the company is forced to allow third-party app stores? This is what I want to read about. Tell me how you as a company will protect my personal data while opening up the software on my extremely expensive device.

I don't care which ecosystem you're in. I just want it to get better for you each and every year.

If I were an Apple customer, I would not care how things work on Android. As an Android customer, I don't want to care how things work on iOS. As a tech writer, I have to use and care about both. I don't want to see a 31-page PDF manifesto that tells me about how bad Android is and says, "this will happen to Apple if we do this horrible thing Epic wants us to do," because it's just 31 pages of crap.

I want to read about the particular problems sideloading on iOS would bring and how they would be addressed. Or even how they would be impossible to address. Pointing fingers at the other guy, especially when your entire OS is owned by visiting a web page, is a bad look. When you're half of the mobile tech industry like Apple is, we deserve better from you.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

12 Comments
  • I am more worried about my data being safe with Google and Apple than I am some hacker.
    They have all the power and can snoop, report, take advantage of every piece of data I put up in their systems. Apple and Google know this too which is why they fight so hard to keep a stranglehold on our data.
  • Remind me…wasn’t Google Protect proven to be as useful as poop-flavored lollipop a while back?
  • While looking at this article using Safari browser, DuckDuck go privacy essentials reports that it blocked 17, safari reports that it blocked 13 trackers on this page. 3 from google, 2 from Facebook many from other ad profiling companies. So I ask what is the point of your article when your own company makes money for not just placing ads next to articles but tracking and profiling users who read these articles. DuckDuck go privacy essentials also note that this page has "unknown privacy practices", would you like to shed some light on that?
  • No, because I can't. I am simply the senior editor here and have zero control over anything that's not written by our staff. I understand your concerns and can point you towards our corporate contact page here: https://www.futureplc.com/contact/ or give you the voice number if you'd rather speak with someone directly: UK: +44 (0)1225 442244 Australia: +61 (0)2 99552677 USA: +1 212 378 0448 Again. I'm not trying to dismiss or diminish your concerns. I'm simply telling you that I have no answers because I have no control over this end of our business.
  • not sure why you would have to even answer this guy. You guys have salaries to pay, bills to pay
  • That turist dude is probably a trust fund baby. Business is business.
  • Because sometimes I have the same concerns. I get to voice them in our internal meetings but you, as our readers, our customers, don't have that luxury. I hope he/she takes the time to follow up with our management team about the questions they have.
  • Thank you for the info, I will follow up to understand the model used to monetize in relation to data collected and privacy implications if any. I was not attacking just raising a question, at some point we need to start looking for new methods of monetizing digital media, I agree free access and no data harvesting is not feasible but kind of info to be collected must be limited and audited at least, and you might possibly raise the same for Apple and Google, what is the depth of data collected and is it ever audited by a respectable third party but that doesn't happen without updated consumer laws. Good article that prompts further discussion, thanks.
  • got to love you types want everything for free so everyone is just supposed to work for free so you don't have to see ads or pay a subscription etc. internet moocher
  • I show 18 blocked. But it is the name of the game.
  • 100% agree on exactly everything here.
  • "Tell me how you as a company will protect my personal data while opening up the software on my extremely expensive device." You just made the case for Apple. The best way to protect your data is to not open up to 3rd party.