Apple’s App Store more popular than ever as security deadline pushed back

Apple Inc. announced on Thursday that it saw record-setting numbers for the App Store at the end of 2016 – right after it indefinitely extended the deadline for developers to meet tougher requirements to provide more secure apps.

You can bet a lot of people found App Store gift cards in their stockings. New Year’s Day was the highest-ever single day for App Store purchases with $240 million U.S., Apple says. That follows a glowing December for the company’s digital catalog that saw $3 billion in revenue. No doubt a healthy chunk of that was driven by Nintendo’s Super Mario Run, which was downloaded 40 million times within four days of its release. The app is free to download, but requires an in-app purchase to access the majority of the gameplay.

Apple’s App Store delivers apps to its family of products including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Mac.

The record-breaking numbers for app downloads follow Apple’s move to delay indefinitely a requirement that would improve user security for applications. In July 2016, Apple mandated that all iOS apps would need to incorporate App Transport Security (ATS), requiring that apps use the HTTPS protocol instead of HTTP by Dec. 31, 2016. But a week before that deadline, Apple announced had been extended.

“To give you additional time to prepare, this deadline has been extended and we will provide another update when a new deadline is confirmed,” Apple posted to its developer portal.

That delay will be a concern to CIOs that seek encrypted communications between their company devices and external servers. According to Constellation Research’s principal analyst Steve Wilson, voluntary uptake of ATS has been slow since Apple introduced it with iOS 9.

“It speaks of security not being a priority for developers and why is obvious, he says. “Developers are under so much pressure for functionality and release cycles and so security takes a back seat. It’s absolutely appalling that we’re letting that reality ride.”

CIOs that are able to control what apps their fleet of Apple devices have access to may want to limit their white list to apps that use ATS until Apple’s own requirement is put into effect.

Top business apps on the App Store in the paid category at the moment are:

  1. Scanner for Me – PDF Scanner for Documents – $6.99
  2. Scanner Pro – Scan any document to PDF with OCR – $5.49
  3. Readdle Productivity Pack – $19.99

Top free business apps are:

  1. Adobe Acrobat
  2. Flashlight
  3. Indeed Job Search

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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