One major benefit that keeps users faithful to Android is the ability to install apps from sources other than the official Google Play Store. Just as you can on a PC, you can simply download an Android app from anywhere online and install it using the APK file. However, on Apple’s side of the aisle, there is no legitimate way to install apps from outside the App Store. There are many useful apps, including system-wide ad and tracking blockers, that can’t be found in the Play Store but that Android users can still find and use. Of course, you need to be careful when installing APK files, but it’s still empowering to have that freedom.
Apple maintains that allowing iOS users to install apps from unverified sources is a security risk. While that’s technically true, it’s a risk that only affects those who choose to venture outside Apple’s walled garden. Understandably, Apple doesn’t want users who aren’t tech-savvy to accidentally load their devices with malware, but it’s not unreasonable to give that choice to the customer rather than patronizingly restricting the device they paid good money for.
Things may soon change, as Apple’s walled garden has been the target of lawsuits, including from “Fortnite” developer Epic Games. Meanwhile, the European Union, which recently forced Apple’s hand on putting USB-C in the iPhone 15, has introduced requirements that the company must allow apps to be installed from outside the App Store. Users may see these changes as soon as 2024.