Alternative App Store

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The court battle between Apple and Epic Games has been going on for weeks. It is still basically fighting over money so I do not care about it too much. However, there is one thing that can greatly affect iOS users like me and most of my family that I want to talk about. It is the possibility of alternative app stores or app sideloading.

Currently, the only way for normal iOS users to install apps is through Apple's App Store. All apps available on the App Store have to pass a review process which at least prevents 99% of bad apps from coming to users' devices. Haters gonna hate, but I am glad that the review process and installation restriction exist. As the only person in my family with a computer science background, I have been helping many family members and friends fixing their computers for years. And most people I help have no idea how dangerous things can be on the computer and on the Internet. I have also written iOS and Android apps once in a while. And what gives me a bit of peace in mind is that when I know my family uses an iPhone, their phones are less likely to be attacked because of that review process and that App Store restriction.

The phone is the most important, and sometimes the only, computer my mom and dad use for almost everything: messages, news, learning, entertainment, banking, ... You name it. Just thinking about another alternative where my mom opens a website, a popup shows up, my mom naturally clicks OK, an unknown app is installed and can do bad stuff without anyone knowing anything. It is scary. And it is just not for my parents but also for all other dozens of my relatives.

For power users who (hopefully) know what they are doing with their computers and phones, it is OK to give them more flexibility. But for the majority of casual users, it is our job to protect them.