GOOGLE’S top boss has warned Android owners over a dangerous type of app.

One of the freedoms of owning an Android phone is the ability to install almost any app.

Android phones allow you to install apps from anywhere – but this creates significant danger


Android phones allow you to install apps from anywhere – but this creates significant dangerCredit: Getty
Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned of the dangers of sideloading – and urged users to do it extremely carefully


Google CEO Sundar Pichai warned of the dangers of sideloading – and urged users to do it extremely carefullyCredit: EPA

That’s in contrast to the iPhone, which limits users to downloading strictly from the Apple App Store.

Google offers its own Play Store, but lets Android users download apps from anywhere – but with pop-up warnings flagging the dangers.

Now Google chief exec Sundar Pichai has issued a warning about the dangers of “sideloading” – that’s installing apps from outside the official stores.

“We don’t want to allow you to completely compromise your phone,” Sundar warned, as quoted by The Verge.

“It can install malware on your phone…it can really compromise your safety, very significantly.”

He continued: “We’re trying to strike a balance. Apple’s iPhone only allows the App Store, but we believe in choice.

“So on Android we allow you to sideload and install additional applications.

“It’s like a seatbelt in a car. We are adding the protections so you can use it safely.”

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Sundar was speaking at last week’s U.S. v Google trial, and was testifying under oath when he made the comments.

The antitrust case is examining whether Google made deals with other companies – including Apple – to (potentially unfairly) feature its search engine.

Cyber-experts have longed warned about the dangers of sideloading.

The Google Play Store has strict checks to root out dangerous malware created by criminals to infect your phone.

But if you install apps from outside an official store, you run the risk of downloading dangerous software.

You should consider deleting sideloaded apps and replacing them with Google Play Store versions unless you’re very sure that they’re safe.

Changing Apple

Apple may end up easing its restrictions on sideloading in 2024.

The EU’s Digital Markets Act creates legal pressure to let gadget users install apps from third-party stores.

And it’s looking increasingly likely that Apple will have to relax its policies around how users install apps, at least in Europe.

But Apple has spoken out several times about the dangerous of sideloading.

Senior Apple exec Craig Federighi called sideloading “a cybercriminal’s best friend” while speaking at the Web Summit in 2021.

He added: ““As an engineer who wants iPhone to stay as secure as possible for our users, there is one part I worry about and that’s the provision that would require iPhone to allow sideloading.

“In the name of giving users more choice, that one provision would take away consumers’ choice of a more secure platform.

“All of this comes at a time where people are keeping more personal and sensitive information than ever on their iPhones.

“And I can tell you there have never been cybercriminals more determined to get your hands on it.”

He also warned that users can be tricked into sideloading, creating a danger for users who aren’t tech savvy.

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