Apple's Federighi Throws macOS Under The Bus To Promote iOS' Secure Walled Garden
The antitrust trial between Apple and Epic Games continues today, and Apple is stepping up its defense of iOS, even if it means knocking some of its other products. Last week, the company made an interestingly timed announcement about how the App Store prevented $1.5 billion in fraud through 2020. Now Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior VP of software engineering, has been brought to the stand to defend the iOS ecosystem’s practices…by throwing macOS under the bus?
As a quick refresher, back in August of 2020, Apple kicked Fortnite and subsequently Epic Games out of the App Store for some admittedly deceptive practices. In short, Epic changed Fortnite by adding its own payment system to the game after it was already approved for the App Store. This would have allowed Epic to circumvent Apple’s 30% cut of app profits and monolithic ecosystem. However, Apple was quite obviously not keen on this idea and, over time, blew up into the events that are taking place now.
The trial that began on May 3rd may be ending soon, but there are still witnesses and testimonies to be heard. It is expected that Apple CEO Tim Cook will take the stand in the coming days. In the meantime, Federighi provided testimony about how iOS’s “walled garden” model was beneficial. Interestingly, this testimony also provided insight into Apple’s other ecosystems, like macOS, as reported by The Verge.
Federighi explained that if Mac security techniques were applied 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.” While that does stand to reason, it also proves that not everything Apple does is perfect. Federighi continued, stating that Apple has “a level of malware on the Mac that we don’t find acceptable and is much worse than iOS.” You can read this exchange between Judge Rogers and Federighi below for the full context.
Judge Rogers: There are multiple stores on the Mac. So, if that can happen on the Mac, why should we not allow the same stores to exist on the phone?While this may be viewed as a win in court against Epic Games and its stance, this is certainly something Apple did not want to have to admit. For many years, Apple has rallied around the fact that Macs are “safer,” but the company’s façade has begun to crumble. Of course, this is a problem they are likely heavily invested in trying to solve, but not one that needed to be known publicly.
Craig Federighi: Yeah, it’s certainly how we’ve done it on the Mac and it’s regularly exploited on the Mac. 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. Put that same situation in place for iOS and it would be a very bad situation for our customers
Whatever ends up happening with the trial, it will be interesting to see what Apple does for PR to respond to this dirty laundry that has now been aired. Moreover, we look forward to seeing Tim Cook take the stand as well, so stay tuned to HotHardware for updates and let us know what you think of all of this in the comments below.