Apple Promotes Privacy Features at Developers Conference

At this week’s WWDC in San Jose, California, Apple introduced an anonymous login system and tools that prevent apps from tracking the user’s location, in an attempt to gain the high ground among big tech companies targeted by regulators for privacy issues. Apple also differentiated itself from Facebook and Google, which rely heavily on tracking users’ behavior and activity. The company’s next mobile operating system, iOS 13, slated to debut this fall, will allow users to log into apps without giving up any personal information and generate “automated and random” email addresses.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said it is “a fast, easy way to sign in without all the tracking.” Showing the “Sign in with Apple” feature, he compared it to “similar offerings from Facebook and Google, which he said could share user information in a way that compromised privacy.”

Apple has begun highlighting its privacy features against its rivals; both Google and Facebook are working on privacy features “that could diminish the value of Apple’s iOS.” Apple chief executive Tim Cook “has stressed privacy by criticizing Google, Facebook and other companies as cavalier in collecting user information.”

The new operating system “will give users more options for how they share location data with apps, including an option to only share location information once.” The company also revealed it is “teaming up with security-camera companies to provide more private video tools for people who use cameras to monitor home security.”

Cook has stated that his company is “in the business of selling devices while its peers are in the business of monetizing their customers by gathering data and selling ads.” It has promoted that message with a $54 million TV ad campaign with the tagline, “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on.” The ad-tracking company iSpot.tv reported that the spend is “about half of Apple’s TV ad spending so far this year.”

Gizmodo reports that Apple also faced “increased criticism of its privacy practices lately and rightfully so,” with a recent experiment showing “thousands of trackers siphoning data off the iPhone of technology columnist Geoffrey Fowler.”

At this year’s developer’s conference, privacy was first mentioned in response to the Noise app for Apple Watch, which notifies the user when the decibel level could impact hearing. Apple vice president of health Dr. Sumbul Desai promised that the app, “only periodically samples and does not record or save any audio.”

Apple promised that its “Sign in with Apple” does not track users and “will even create a buffer between consumers and the services they use.” Apple also officially banned the use of embedded trackers in Kids Category apps.