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“ If apple allowed easily sideloading apps I would consider moving over.”

This was the reason I was an android guy until my wife told me to just get a phone that works.

And you know what? Not letting you side load is a feature. When you see it like that, you care a lot less about your phone, and just appreciate that it works and that you can trust it as your more intimate possessions .






Without sideloading I can't use a 3rd party youtube app that has no ads, no tracking and allows downloads. I also can't use my pebble watch because the official app is unsupported and only community supported software exists. I also am restricted from some content that android users of the same app can view because apple prohibits adult content inside of apps.

I see a phone as a tool to do what the user needs. Not the user doing what the phone will allow.


I have a little "share" button on my iPhone that invokes Youtube-DL via Pythonista, so I can open any Youtube video and get a locally saved copy pretty much instantly. I can use VLC to stream YouTube videos without ads.

There's a bunch of apps that let you load pretty much arbitrary code onto the platform - Pythonista and Scriptable are two of the top ones (Python and JS interpreters respectively), and with those you can do quite a lot.

It's not the same experience - that I'll grant you - but if you're moderately a power user iOS gives you enough to work with.


Oh, and apparently there's a new contender too - Play.js includes a fully functional Node.js implementation with support for npm (via package.json dependencies). So now you can basically use any NPM package on iOS. I can already tell that I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of it :)

That’s really smart! Could you share your script (as a Gist or something) I’d really like to use it.

Sure, here it is: https://gist.github.com/nneonneo/f6b2d659ba76542e7d27e13598a...

You need to install YouTube-DL via Pip, but happily the StaSh shell for Pythonista already includes Pip. If you're not using StaSh yet, give it a whirl - it includes a huge number of handy tools like SSH, Git, Pip, etc. Pythonista is awesome!


I know this is a privileged position, but I just solved that by paying your YouTube premium which gets rid of ads and allows me to download.

The problem with YouTube Premium is that it doesn't solve the tracking aspect of it. If anything, it gives Google validated identity & billing details about you which makes the situation worse from a privacy point of view.

I'm a heavy YouTube user and would be happy to pay for it. Yet, I can't do so without agreeing to their insane "privacy" policy and providing personal details to a company that has proven its bad faith countless times with all the dark patterns & invasive tracking.


In other words, you solved it by not stealing.

This is a slippery slope. In this case, is turning down the volume during ads also stealing? Is looking away stealing? Etc.

Downloading files for later has been a basic feature of computers since decades. If Google is now giving us defective-by-design tools it shouldn't be considered stealing to fix them or replace them with something non-defective.


It sure is, but I think it's pretty clear that "using YT Vanced/other apps to watch all of my YT content" (or ad blockers for that matter) is effectively stealing by using Google's bandwidth, server time, data redundancy, etc. without giving them anything. Maybe you're fine with that, maybe even Google is fine with that (since, at least with only ad blockers, they still get the data to build their human-level intelligence ML model in 20 years), but not everyone wants to do so.

Legally speaking it's not stealing. But this is an ethics debate, which is probably why you inserted the word "effectively" before "stealing". That's perfectly acceptable rhetoric :)

However, I would rather characterise it as misleading Google into sending data they didn't really mean to send given the exact ways in which the data is used (i.e. watched without ads and stored locally).

So this is "effectively" giving Google some of its own medicine. Misleading people into sending them data they might not have sent given full knowledge of the facts is at the core of personalised advertising.

So is this the ad industry stealing people's data, bandwidth, CPU time and battery capacity? No, not legally speaking. Is it ethically questionable? Definitely.

So is it OK to turn the tables on them? Stealing from thiefs if you like the stealing metaphor. I think it depends, but I see it mostly as a pragmatic issue, not so much an ethical one.

I don't personally use ad blockers, because paying for everything directly is an even greater threat to privacy than advertising. It doesn't even stop tracking - on the contrary. I don't currently see a viable alternative to some form of advertising (not necessarily personalised).

But because I'm accepting ads, I'm getting to feel the full brunt of the industry's deceptive efforts to prevent me from exercising my legal rights. They are using every imaginable technical and legal trick in the book to avoid compliance with lawmakers' stated intentions.

Given this context and considering Google's oligopoly sized margins, I feel that it is disproportionate to use "stealing" as a metaphor for the comparably tiny ethics issues related to ad blocking or youtube downloaders.

We need to nudge or coerce advertising back to using context and content for ad targeting instead of running deceptive spy organisations. That would also result in more money ending up in the pockets of content producers instead of middlemen.


Google gives you the data, you do not take it. If they give you the data without showing you adds, that is their problem, not yours.

My workaround for YouTube (on both iOS and macOS) is to use an RSS reader like News Explorer (it natively supports subscribing to YouTube URLs and syncs via iCloud) and then just watching via the browser with a content blocker (AdGuard) that seems to block the ads & cancer on YouTube pages.

This also allows you to subscribe to channels without having a Google account and agreeing to their "privacy" policy.


> I can't use a 3rd party youtube app that has no ads, no tracking and allows downloads.

It's called YouTube Premium. It's funny how we Hacker News users complain about services like YouTube and say we'd pay, but very few do.


I'm not complaining. I have a setup that works well for me. It just isn't possible on iOS.

I agree in principle, but if you want to get your Pebble working, check out “Rebble”. I’m happily using my old Pebble steel smart watch with iOS!

Potentially more on topic though, Apple gives significantly more functionality to the Apple Watch that third-party devices will simply never have access to. That’s the kind of lock-in I am annoyed about when it comes to iOS. Google play music will always be a second-class citizen compared to Apple Music, as is Google maps compared to Apple Maps. OneDrive and Fropbox will never be allowed to match the built-in functionality of iTunes back up. Flux can’t work on iOS, you’re stuck with the built-in Night Shift. Third-party keyboards are finally allowed, but they’re definitely second-class citizens and tend to not work very well due to operating system limitations.


Without sideloading I can't use a 3rd party youtube app that has no ads

What now? Safari + an ad blocker work just fine.


I just have AdBlock Plus installed and enabled for Safari on my iPhone. Haven't seen any ads on YouTube for quite some time now if I am viewing it on Safari. Only downside is that I have to click the cancel button everytime YouTube shows a pop up to open the link in the app.

You’re seeing it as a computer. It’s a phone.

This is the typical response I expected. "Your using it wrong!!"

Explain to me why the use case of using youtube without adverts or connecting my phone to my smartwartch is invalid.


I felt the same way as you for a long time, but eventually I got too busy to keep tinkering with my Android phones.

* First I got too busy to build custom ROMs, so I switched to ClockworkMod

* Then I didn't have time to load ClockworkMod on a new phone, so I just stuck with regular Android

* Then I gradually didn't bother to keep up to speed on new, better versions of the software I was using. Over the course of a few years apps kept breaking due to SDK changes

* This whole time, Google was steadily updating the Android UX and making obnoxious changes in an attempt to beat out Apple. So the OS was getting worse and worse every year

Finally, I switched to an iPhone due to some unrelated circumstances, and I was shocked to find that I barely miss Android at all. It sucks as a computer and a cool hackable platform, but it works great as a dumb device for a few basic use cases


Those are valid. YouTube Premium allows the first (while still paying content creators), and someone mentioned an iOS app that allows the second.

I don’t care if you switch, but figure you may want to know.


That doesn't mean he's wrong.

I've chosen not to "see" my phone as a computer, you as well. I treat mine as an appliance - not even as a phone really, it's significantly more a Messenger (Signal mostly), a music player, a web browser, and RSS reader, a camera, and a book. I hardly ever make/receive calls on mine.

But you can't argue that his choice isn't valid for him.


"watch videos" and "connect to a smart watch" are some of the primary uses of a smart phone. What are you even trying to say?

Strongly agree. When I was younger and had free time to tinker I loved highly customizing my phone. But now I have so many things I'd rather be doing. I just want the defaults to take me 90% of the way there.

If I spend more than 20 mins a month "managing" my phone, I'm irritated.


This is also true for me. It's a feature I appreciate a lot.

There was a time when I actively enjoyed sysadminning and updating and securing all my personal computers. But many of "computers" are now closer to "appliances" and the last thing I want to spend time on weekends/evening these days is poking at the OS on my phone (or my book or my coffee machine or or or)

I'm happy to have "let go" and chosen "I'll do things with my phone Steve's way, or I won't do them. I'm happy to 'hold it right', and not be able to install aircrack-ng or crypto miners or whatever, so long as Apple keep it updated and secure and private to an acceptable level."

When I want to geek out, I have a drawer full of Raspberry Pis, various linux and bsd boxes, and an AWS account. (I do also have a Apple Dev account, so I can "side load" weird shit if I choose. I have not done that on my everyday iPhone since about my 4GS...)

I need my phone to work properly at 7:30am Monday morning... It's an appliance to me, not a general purpose computing device.


You say that like a premium android phone doesn't "just work". There is nothing on android that forces you to customize things, it simply allows it.

Ahhh, no. I'm first to admit it's _me_ that's broken here.

If I can fuck with it easily, sooner or later I'll get tempted into doing so.

I appreciate having a choice that lets me force myself to say "Nope, not on the iPhone. If I want to try out $shinyThing I can do it on the older Android device, or on a spare RaspberryPi or any of the spare laptop/pcs in the workshop."

There's nothing from Apple that forces you to buy an iPhone, you're allowed to buy an Android if you choose.

Interestingly, it's _much_ harder to customise a Tesla than, say, a Mustang. I wonder which side of the "but you're taking away my rights!" argument most of the people disagreeing here fall on whether to buy a Tesla or not? (For the record, I'd like to own a Tesla and I'd happily enough "use it Elon's way", but I also like owning ~20 year old motorcycles that I can tinker with to my heart's content...)


> This was the reason I was an android guy until my wife told me to just get a phone that works.

I have not heard anything that suggests Android phones work less than iPhones. That's certainly not been my experience, anyway. I've been using Android phones for 10 years now and they've always worked just fine. And I can sideload things, which I still do, and wouldn't want to give up.

> Not letting you side load is a feature.

I absolutely do not see it that way.


Android user 8 years, iPhone 6 months.

> > Not letting you side load is a feature.

> I absolutely do not see it that way.

This is the key. Not having this option frees me from having to worry about the whole issue which is liberating. Either it's in the AppStore or it's not and I move on. With Android I spent days/weeks following whispers/rumors of such an app and trying different alternatives, rooting, etc.

It depends on how much patience and control you want. I had time for that years ago, but not now. iPhone gives you a lot less customization and control, but I spend a lot less time managing the phone and one-off issues, weird needs-fixing cases, phone-vendor specific things.

Not trying to sell you on iPhone, just saying I thought the same as you, but understand both sides of it now.


To draw the example to the extreme you might as well put a brick in your pocket. You can't do anything with it so it's liberating!

Obviously I'm being facetious, but only to illustrate that there of course is a balance between features and mind liberating. There's nothing inherent to the device, or removing functionality that liberates you. You can do that regardless of device.


I would say that anyone who would even consider it remotely desirable to be able to sideload apps has very different desires and expectations about how much they will "fiddle" with their phone to get it working they way they like. In other works, "it always worked just fine" probably means very different things to someone who would want to sideload apps than the average smartphone user who has never even heard of "sideloading."

There are many non fiddler users who use or appreciate the possibility of sideloading/alternative appstores.

I consider myself one of those. I don't run a custom android rom, I haven't even set a custom wallpaper. When I get a new phone I install fdroid and install a set of open source privacy respecting apps I know to work and do exactly what I want.

I like the app store model of having a 3rd party do quality control. I just want the option to select the 3rd party which is best aligned with my interests. Google and Apple do not have my best interests in mind.


The "phone that works" really needs more context. Android phones work. People are also happy to move from iPhone to Android. If you want to do crazy things that make them not work, you can, but nobody forces you to.

It's a feature until apple makes a moral call on software.

they banned all vaping-related software, but this also included apps to control folks' medical dosages of cannabis. while it was (kinda) laudible they didn't want to expose kids to smoking propaganda, I would have about 500 bucks in near-bricked devices just for switching to iOS.


Its pretty disturbing how we have a company whos products are used globally enforcing illogical American morals on the rest of the world (Apps with guns and violence are totally ok but anything with nudity is unthinkable).

Its also really bad for small business when they are forced to depend on apple for profits and literally get destroyed when apple decides their app is no longer suitable.


In my experience, a good Android phone and a good iPhone both "just work" out of the box for 98% of my uses. The main reason I tend to use Android phones is that in the 2% of situations when something doesn't work the way I want/need it to, I have the option to do something about it.

I don't go sideloading every random app I dig up from freeappzlol.ru or whatever, but I also don't need to be restricted to a single software repo when I want something like systemwide ad blocking or a youtube app that plays with the screen off (two things Google would prefer to restrict).

And when the device gets old and slow and stops getting official support, I can flash a slimmed down ROM that allows me to use it as a basic streaming source or fancy remote control or whatever because it's possible to install another OS or build on deprecated hardware much as I would on an old laptop or desktop that gets turned into a Linux box for web browsing or network storage.

I only speak for myself and definitely see your angle, but to me, taking away options doesn't really lead to increased peace of mind. Having the ability to do something doesn't equal having to do something...but in the event that I want to do something, I like knowing I'm able.


> Not letting you side load is a feature.

No. It's not. Stop, seriously.

"Not letting you vote is a feature."

"Not letting you complain is a feature."

"Not letting you speak is a feature."

"Not letting you have free will is a feature."

"Not letting you use your body as you wish is a feature."

This is how we lose our digital rights. Stop buying into this utter horse shit.

We have the right to repair our devices, run whatever code we want on them, the right to sell them, and not be spied upon by them.


Single data point. For me it _is_ a feature. It stops me getting sidetracked by shiny new interesting projects and installing them on my primary phone. I value that.

But being absolutist about it is just foolish.

It doesn't surprise me that a significant portion of HN readers want to use their pocket computer as a general purpose computer, capable of having anything the user chooses installed on it. I'm one of the HN readers who prefers _not_ to have that temptation (although I do have an Android phone for "playing with" and an Apple dev account and my previous few iPhones which I can run whatever code I choose).

On the other hand, my mom's "right to repair her device, run whatever code she wants on it" is a _way way_ lower priority for her than "Is reasonably safe downloading anything from the AppStore and running it, and has (arguably) industry best security and privacy while doing so".

(And comparing that iOS/Android choice to "Not letting you vote" is unhelpful hyperbole. You are likely to get taken way less seriously than you intend if you're using reality-defying comparisons like that...)


Perhaps not allowing side loading decreases the likelihood of malware and security exploits.

Not letting you speak prevents you from saying something stupid.

Android already provides plenty of warnings and confirmations before allowing you to sideload. But in the end if you go through all of that you agree to take up the responsibility.


"don't install software because it could be bad"

My parents and grandparents couldn’t browse the internet without being afraid their computer would slow down or get infected before iOS came along.

Since getting iPads, they have been able to do whatever they want. That’s worth something.


> And you know what? Not letting you side load is a feature.

Apps released under the GPL are banned from the App Store.


Not true, VLC is GPL and on the app store

It is true. GPL apps are banned from the App Store because Apple’s TOS is incompatible with the license.

VLC for iOS is bi-licensed under MPLv2 and GPL [0].

[0]: https://thenextweb.com/apps/2013/07/18/vlc-for-ios-will-retu...


Not true. VLC had to change its license to be allowed on the app store https://www.openlogic.com/blog/vlc-license-change-lesson-per...

Or you just decide to not sideload on Android. Problem solved.

I fail to see it as a feature.


Would you feel the same way about someone planning all your meals? Where you work? Where you sleep? It's beneficial to resist control even when that control seems beneficial at first. In the end, only you have your own best interest in mind.



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