Today is the perfect day for contrasting Apple and Google. Given the news coming out of the Google conference, as well as the news coming out of the “locationgate” Senate hearings, we’ve been given a very clear dividing line between the two companies’ philosophies when it comes to a moderated versus open App Store environment.
The hardcore geeks will undoubtably score this one for Android. I don’t necessarily disagree with them either. If you know how to manage your device, steer clear of threats, and only install credible and secure applications, there’s no real downside to an open App Store. That being said, the general population has no clue about any of that aforementioned stuff. That’s what worries me about the “open” philosophy that Google has embraced. I’m not worried about me, or even a majority of our readers. I am, however, worried about friends and family who install apps with reckless abandon, assuming everything is legit and malware free. I’m worried about those people who can’t seem to keep those pesky third-party toolbars out of their browsers.
With no gate keepers in place, who’s looking out for the average user? According to everything Google said during the Senate committee today, they expect the users to protect themselves. Again, that works for a lot of people who know how to protect themselves, but what about those who don’t? Those who just want a cool smartphone? How are they being protected against the 400 percent increase in malware? Who’s looking out for the weak in this scenario?
There are a lot of things that annoy me about Apple, but the fact that they’re protecting me from garbage on the App Store isn’t one of them. Expecting everyone with an Android phone to have the technical know-how to protect themselves from a malware attack isn’t realistic.
Sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As smartphones proliferate even further, there’s going to be increased incentive for hackers to compromise your phone’s security. This is platform agnostic, and it’s going to be a huge problem moving forward. But, as it stands there’s one very important differentiating factor. Between the two major philosophies, malware is less likely to find its way to iPhones than it is to Android phones. There’s someone in the middle of the process with a giant “You shall not pass!” sign, call them Gandalfian if you will. In the daily fight against malware, I’d rather have someone like Gandalf watching my back while I make my escape than a giant Balrog breathing down my neck at every turn.
My guess is that most people would take Gandalf every single time.