APPLE boss Tim Cook has made a subtle dig at Google, claiming that the firm's Android operating system is littered with dodgy software.
In an interview yesterday, the 60-year-old said that Android has almost 50 times more malware than iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone.
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He suggested that this gap is due to the robust protections that Apple employs to shield its users from hackers.
"Android has 47 times more malware than iOS does," Cook said at the VivaTech conference, one of Europe's biggest startup and tech events.
"Why is that? It's because we've designed iOS in such a way that there's one App Store and all of the apps are reviewed prior to going on the store.
"That keeps a lot of this malware stuff out of our ecosystem."
The Alabaman was responding to a question from host Guillaume Lacroix, CEO and founder of French short form video provider Brut.
Lacroix had asked Cook over video call what he thought of increasing regulatory scrutiny of Apple from legislators and judges in the US and EU.
There is particular concern over the fact that Apple's tightly controlled ecosystem forces users to download apps through the company's App Store.
This allows the tech titan to take cuts of up to 30 per cent on purchases made through apps, which recently landed Apple in a major lawsuit.
One suggested solution proposes forcing Apple to enable "sideloading", a process by which apps can be downloaded directly from the internet.
This is an option to users of Android mobiles, but not iPhones. It does not offer protections provided by anti-malware systems on app stores.
Cook's suggestion was that sideloading would lead to more malware appearing on iOS, just as it does on Android.
The half-hour interview also covered Apple's attitude to privacy and even touched upon Cook's predecessor, Steve Jobs.
"We've been focused on privacy for over a decade. We see it as a basic human right," Cook said.
"Steve used to say privacy was stating in plain language what people are signing up for and getting their permission.
"And that permission should be asked repeatedly. We've always tried to live up to that."
Keeping malware out of app stores is a constant battle for the likes of Apple and Google.
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The tech powerhouses have a variety of checks in place to stop dodgy apps from reaching their stores, which are used by millions across the globe.
Google says its machine learning systems blocked more 962,000 suspicious apps from being listed on the Play Store last year alone.
However, tens of thousands still slip through the companies' nets every year.
Malicious apps can steal their users' personal information and even make unauthorised purchases that rinse the bank accounts of unwitting victims.
They're often disguised as legitimate apps, such as games or QR code readers, in order to avoid detection by moderators.
Web security firm Malwarebytes says it finds close to 200,000 total instances of malware on its customers' devices every month.
In other news, Apple has released an urgent update for older iPhones to protect them from hackers.
Seven new iPhones could be on their way this year as an Apple filing appears to confirm multiple new models.
And, Apple has had to pay millions of dollars to a woman whose explicit videos and images were shared online by people repairing her iPhone.
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