During Apple’s trial against Epic Games, Craig Federighi argued that strict control of the App Store was necessary to protect the iPhone. But Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers was not convinced.
I wrote in her rule Federighi may have been exaggerating the truth regarding Mac malware concerns for the company’s good.
Federighi raised serious doubts about whether the company would be able to protect iPhones without the app review system in its current state.
Federighi said the security of macOS is poor. But the judge does not believe Federighi has evidence to support his statement.
While Federighi’s views about the macOS malware may seem reasonable, the judge said. But it first appeared at trial, suggesting that he amplifies the truth for the good of the company. He testified during the filing that he had no data about the relative rates of malware across documented Mac apps compared to iOS apps.
She added: “During the trial, he admitted that the company had tools to collect malware data for Mac only, not for iOS, which raises the question of how it knew the relative rates.” Apple had long presented macOS as safe from malware before this lawsuit. Thus, the court does not give Federighi’s testimony much importance in this matter.
The judge said Federighi was trying to make macOS look bad so that iOS could shine, without much evidence. After discussing documentation and reviewing the apps, I concluded that Apple could implement a system similar to macOS without compromising the security of iOS.
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Apple Has Exaggerated Mac Malware Concerns
The court found it compelling that application review can be relatively independent of application distribution. As Federighi emphasized during the trial, once the app is reviewed, the company can send it back to the developer for distribution directly or in another store.
Although unrestricted distribution of applications is likely to lead to a lower level of security. But alternative models are easily achievable to achieve the same ends even if they are not currently in use.
It should be noted that the judge did not force Apple to allow alternative app stores or sideloading. But her view is a sharp criticism of Apple’s more prominent defenses of its locked-down approach to iOS.
In the trial, Epic Games argued that Apple could achieve security and privacy across iOS without controlling the exclusive way apps are distributed.
She suggested that the company could use a system similar to a Mac – by checking the apps before running them and checking to see if they were the same code they had documented.
Although, the Mac documentation process does not currently include all of the validations that occur in an app review. But it’s theoretically possible for Apple to do so if it wanted to.
Also Read: Apple Should Allow Other Forms of In-App Purchase