Is Sideloading Really as Dangerous as Apple Claims?

sideloading apps are they dangerous as Apple claims?

Sideloading (side-loading) is basically allowing applications (or software in general) to install on the device  without going through the App Store. In short,you can download the app and install it directly on the device. This is already allowed on Android, macOS, Windows.

Apple claims that side-loading would destroy iOS security and privacy. However, even without sideloading we have already seen iOS malware that passed the App Store security tests. Same iOS malware was then available for users to download as an legit and verified app. Additionally side loading is already available in macOS. Manual action is required there in order to install 3rd party software.

Tim Cook says Android has more malware than iOS and he blames side-loading. It is worth noting that phones in the Google ecosystem are by default configured to only allow the Google Play store as an applications source. Google’s most recent transparency report said less than 0.2% of Android devices have installed a malicious app through official Google channels.

In the Android world those who want to download an app from another source must explicitly confirm the download and grant permissions on their device. In other words, Android users who use sideloading are well aware of the risks. Same goes for iPhone jailbreakers. As for jailbreaking it is also worth noting the recent permanent checkm8 vulnerability affected A5-A11 (iPhone 4s–iPhone X) devices and couldn’t be patched by Apple. Despite all the Apple’s security measures the jailbreak community is still active and I personally believe such communities are necessary and needed.


While Apple mainly focuses on the security and privacy reasoning regarding the sideloading feature. It is worth noting that Apple takes a cut – up to 30% of revenue generated by apps distributed through its App Store. Meaning enabling side loading can hurt their business model. Moreover, if you are App author you never know if your App will be accepted to AppStore or removed from AppStore without any explanation from Apple. There is also an antitrust lawsuit filed by Epic Games. Epic wants to offer its games on Apple devices outside the App Store.

While in my personal opinion security is a very important factor regarding every device nowadays I think users should have the option to use side loading if they want to. Obviously this option should be disabled by default but nevertheless it should be present. I think advanced users can make a good use out of it (including security researchers) and the ones who are afraid of using this feature simply don’t have to.

Bottom line is the only things Apple loses are control and money. The security and privacy reasoning is mostly just corporate noise.

About the author

By John M

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