Craig Federighi
The Epic Games-Apple case brought the company’s head of software, Craig Federighi to testify.

The ongoing Apple vs Epic Games court trial has led to some stunning revelations over the past few days. At the heart of it all is Epic Games trying to force Apple to allow app installation on iPhones from a third-party store, and in the long run, tweaking its in-app payment policy too. The latest round of legal back-and-forth between the two companies brought Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi to the court, and it was quite an eventful affair. The Apple executive seemingly threw macOS under the bus to argue against third-party app installation on iPhones.

Ultimately I think the Mac can be operated safely, says Apple's Craig Federighi

When questioned why software installation from alternative app stores was allowed for Macs but not on iPhones, Federighi countered by claiming that this would weaken the security aspect. He went on to add that allowing third-party software installation has often been exploited and it has resulted in a level of malware in the Mac ecosystem that Apple doesn’t find acceptable.

“iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today. And that’s despite the fact that Mac users inherently download less software and are subject to a way less economically motivated attacker base. If you took Mac security techniques and applied them to the iOS ecosystem, with all those devices, all that value, it would get run over to a degree dramatically worse than is already happening on the Mac. And as I say, today, we have a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable and is much worse than iOS.”

Federighi went on to mention that even some of his family members have come across malware on their Mac hardware. But he was quick to argue that Mac was still the safer platform to operate, indirectly targeting Windows which has a well-known problem with addressing the rampant malware distribution on the platform.

Federighi during the launch of Apple’s M1-powered MacBook Air (Image: Apple)

iOS has established a dramatically higher bar for customer protection. The Mac is not meeting that bar today.

The Apple executive argued that iOS and Mac ecosystem can not be compared in this regard, as iPhones contain a lot more personal and sensitive data that needs to be safeguarded. He added that the iPhone user base is 10x higher compared to what the Mac commands. On the other hand, Epic Games claims that Apple can easily apply the same set of safety and security guidelines for both macOS and iOS, allowing iPhones to download apps from third-party app repositories. Federighi also drew an interesting analogy between Mac and iPhones to explain Apple’s stance (via CNBC):

“The Mac is a car. You can take it off road if you want and you can drive wherever you want. That’s what you wanted to buy. There’s a certain level of responsibility required. With iOS, you wanted to buy something where children can operate an iOS device and feel safe doing so. It’s really a different product.”

Doubling down on why iOS needs more security protocols and how the approach has reaped positive results, Federighi noted that Google’s rival platform Android has a malware problem that is 50 times worse than iOS. In case you’re wondering, Android allows app installation from third-party stores and doesn’t limit users to Google Play, even though Google discourages it in the name of security. The Epic Games-Apple trial will next bring CEO Tim Cook to testify, after which the court proceedings will come to an end on Monday.

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I’ve been writing about consumer technology for over three years now, having worked with names such as NDTV and Beebom in the past. Aside from covering the latest news, I’ve reviewed my fair share of devices ranging from smartphones and laptops to smart home devices. I also have interviewed tech execs and appeared as a host in YouTube videos talking about the latest and greatest gadgets out there.

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