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iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur include some notable privacy updates that offer useful privacy protections for those that invest in and use Apple's range of iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

macprivacytracker.jpg

In an interview with Fast Company, Apple software chief Craig Federighi highlighted all of the new privacy features that users can look forward to when the new software updates come out this fall, plus he provided some insight into Apple's privacy philosophy.

According to Federighi, privacy is an important part of every software update because Apple wants to show customers that they can "demand more" and "expect more" from the industry when it comes to privacy protections. "We can help move the industry into building things that better protect privacy," said Federighi.
"I think that there are many instances where we started providing privacy protections of some sort, and then we then saw others in the industry-some of whom have different business models than we do-adopt those practices because users came to expect them," he says. "That's happening all over the place. I mean, look at whether it's apps protecting customer messaging with end-to-end encryption. Or some of the kinds of location protections we're talking about. Or some of our protections, like requiring apps to ask before they access your photo libraries, and so forth. You see those protections being added to other operating systems, inspired by our work and based on the fact that users demand them."
Privacy at Apple is guided by four core principles: data minimization, on-device intelligence, security, and transparency and control. All four of those principles were in play when Apple designed iOS 14, iPadOS 14, and macOS Big Sur, and all of the updates include significant privacy features, as outlined below.
  • Approximate Location - You can now choose to provide apps with your approximate location rather than your specific location, which is a great feature for protecting location privacy. Apps that provide info like weather, news, and restaurant recommendations don't need exact location data, making approximate location data an appropriate choice.
  • App Tracking Permission - Apps in iOS and iPadOS 14 won't be able to cross track you across the web without consent. Users will be able to see what apps they've granted permission to cross-track them and revoke that permission at any time. This feature also applies to Apple's own apps.
  • App Store Privacy Details - App Store listings for apps will include an easy-to-read list of privacy details so you know what data is collected before you download an app. Internally, Apple is referring to this as a "nutrition label for apps," and it will include details on the user data an app wants across 31 categories. This won't be available when iOS 14 ships, but it is coming before the end of the year.
  • Clipboard Restrictions - Apps no longer have full access to the clipboard. Previously, most apps could access the last data you copied, but that's no longer the case. Apps will require user permission to access the clipboard for the first time, so you can prevent apps that don't need that information from accessing it.
  • Compromised passwords - Apple's new software updates will notify you if a password stored in iCloud Keychain has been compromised in a data breach.
  • Microphone and Camera Notifications - When an app is accessing either the camera or the microphone on an iPhone or iPad, there will be indicator lights next to the cellular signal that will let you know. There's a green indicator light for the camera and an orange indicator light for the microphone.
Federighi told Fast Company that many of the new privacy features added to iOS each year are based on customer feedback and emails.
"I get emails from customers saying to me, 'I am sure this popular app I downloaded is secretly listening to me. I was just talking about this thing, and this ad came up that was just about what I was talking about. I'm sure it was listening to me,'" he says.

"Now, in many cases, this, in fact, was not happening," says Federighi of concerns over iPhone users being unwittingly recorded. "We know it was not happening. But they believe it is. And so, providing that peace of mind through a recording indicator that will always let you know whether an app, at that moment, is accessing your camera or accessing your microphone is important."
He wrapped up the conversation by saying that he believes Apple's work on privacy protections will be one of the legacies that it's remembered for centuries from now.

Federighi's full interview on privacy can be read over on the Fast Company website, and it's well worth reading because it provides a look at Apple's efforts to improve privacy protections for users over time as well as Apple's thoughts on how developers perceive its privacy features.

Article Link: Apple's Craig Federighi Highlights iOS 14 and MacOS Big Sur Privacy Updates in New Interview
 
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xxray

macrumors 68020
Jul 27, 2013
2,450
6,821
  • Clipboard Restrictions - Apps no longer have full access to the clipboard. Previously, most apps could access the last data you copied, but that's no longer the case. Apps will require user permission to access the clipboard for the first time, so you can prevent apps that don't need that information from accessing it.

Yes! I was hoping for this and was worried that since it wasn’t presented, that it wasn’t included. I’m glad to be wrong.
 

boss.king

macrumors 603
Apr 8, 2009
5,388
4,657
This looks awesome, but unless the extension options are greatly improved Safari is still a no-go for me.
 

boss.king

macrumors 603
Apr 8, 2009
5,388
4,657
Now that you will be able to choose a default web browser, that seems to address that, right?
Unless I'm misunderstanding it, these security options are only coming to Safari, right? In which case, my experience is unchanged from what it is right now.

If I'm wrong then yes, problem solved.
 

bigboy29

macrumors 6502
May 19, 2016
311
343
Unless I'm misunderstanding it, these security options are only coming to Safari, right? In which case, my experience is unchanged from what it is right now.

If I'm wrong then yes, problem solved.

You are right; it is unclear (at best) at this point. My reading of this was that some of this stuff does not hinge on Safari use (like cross-app tracking etc.) but truth is that we still need to learn more about this.

I am loving the direction though. :)
 
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riverfreak

macrumors 68000
Jan 10, 2005
1,638
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Thonglor, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon
All steps in the right direction. Some of these things clearly need to be at system level to block tracking from nefarious apps. I’d hazard to guess that most users have no clue of the extent of outgoing connections apps are making.

iOS should also allow for VPN kill switches, as well as make it more obvious when on a VPN — current indicator is hidden because of notch constraints.

Apple also really needs to move to zero-knowledge encryption at iCloud, at least as an option for people who know they will never need account recovery assistance. Alternatively, Apple needs to stop collecting so much information. If you haven’t, do a data download request and prepare to be amazed!
 

Saturn007

macrumors 6502a
Jul 18, 2010
962
717
Glad to see they're making improvement; just wish that they would fix the glaring privacy loopholes in Siri, Dictation, and CarPlay!

Have to vent a little. Here's one of the problems. Turning on Siri gives Apple permission to sweep up ALL of your conversations and contact information -- along with all sorts of other information. Here's what Apple says:

"When you use Siri and Dictation, the things you say and dictate will be sent to Apple to process your requests. In addition to these audio recordings, your device will send other Siri Data, such as:
  • contact names, nicknames, and relationships (e.g., “my dad”), if you set them up in your contacts;
  • music, books and podcasts you enjoy;" etc.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210657

Each of those things should be optional, up to the user, or handled locally on the device. Worse, though, from a privacy and ethical standpoint, the people in your contact list have NOT given permission for Apple to sweep up THEIR INFORMATION or have it stored on Apple's servers!

Another one. Several years back, Apple promised that Voice Dictation would be done on people's devices, and not on their servers. That would guarantee privacy. It never happened -- meaning that any dictation one does is gathered by Apple's servers and available for review by select Apple personnel. That's not good for privacy, either!

Another. "Siri Data, which also includes computer generated transcriptions of your Siri requests, is used to help Siri and Dictation on your iOS device." How that works when they also claim that the supposed "random, device generated identifier... is not linked to your Apple ID, email address, or other data Apple may have from your use of other Apple services" should be explained better.

Finally, adding insult to injury, one cannot use Apple CarPlay WITHOUT turning Siri ON -- a silly requirement if one doesn't wish to use voice commands in their car AND has no plans on calling any of their contacts. Using CarPlay, thus, transfers all the information that Siri desires to Apple; again, gobbling up contacts' info without their permission. If all I want to do is use Maps, this is invasive and unnecessary.

Apple could do so much better.

(Don't get me started on their recent crippling of ad blockers which turned the Internet back into something usable, enjoyable, non-distracting, and non-irritating!)

<vent off>
 

Keymaster

macrumors regular
Dec 15, 2003
111
375
Apple's privacy steps are becoming one of the main reasons I stay with them, they really seem to take it seriously, far more than any of the other big companies for sure. And, they are doing things to the detriment of their experience to protect privacy...Siri is an example, where it could work better if they kept more of our information in their system. I suspect they are planning to let computing power take care of that eventually, and building up privacy as their key thing in the meantime. And, it does build trust...I wouldn't trust another cellphone producer with a key to my car for example, but I think Apple will protect one very well.

Are they perfect? Of course not, but each OS release seems to be enhancing privacy instead of sharing our information more. As long as they keep to that philosophy, and stand up to the government when it tries to impinge on our privacy, they will have people who value them.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
39,335
6,365
Los Angeles
  • Microphone and Camera Notifications - When an app is accessing either the camera or the microphone on an iPhone or iPad, there will be indicator lights next to the cellular signal that will let you know. There's a green indicator light for the camera and an orange indicator light for the microphone.
What's the alternative for people who are color blind? I can't tell a green light from an orange light.

camera-microphone-indicator.png
 
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Neepman

macrumors 6502a
Jul 31, 2008
769
1,113
Apple's privacy steps are becoming one of the main reasons I stay with them, they really seem to take it seriously, far more than any of the other big companies for sure. And, they are doing things to the detriment of their experience to protect privacy...Siri is an example, where it could work better if they kept more of our information in their system. I suspect they are planning to let computing power take care of that eventually, and building up privacy as their key thing in the meantime. And, it does build trust...I wouldn't trust another cellphone producer with a key to my car for example, but I think Apple will protect one very well.

Are they perfect? Of course not, but each OS release seems to be enhancing privacy instead of sharing our information more. As long as they keep to that philosophy, and stand up to the government when it tries to impinge on our privacy, they will have people who value them.
Serializing virtually every component on your mother board with T2 which guarantees a 100 percent data loss from any single point failure is a "privacy" fail and a no right to repair victory.
 
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nvmls

macrumors 68000
Mar 31, 2011
1,777
4,757
Finally Apple some Mac & Safari love! Hopefully dev tools will also improve not just "privacy" and it's "UiOS". The Keynote was fun to watch, we'll see once they deliver, but interesting stuff.

New keynote dynamics were needed, the zombie clapping at events was getting hilarious.
 

mariusignorello

Suspended
Jun 9, 2013
2,092
3,167
Serializing virtually every component on your mother board with T2 which guarantees a 100 percent data loss from any single point failure is a "privacy" fail and a no right to repair victory.
Ya know, I had my iPhone repaired at a third party shop (cracked screen) and what I went through only to receive a subpar quality display (not even OLED on an Xs Max) isn’t worth it. Apple made the devices so they know how to fix them right the first time.
 

IKAR0S

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2012
23
10
What's the alternative for people who are color blind? I can't tell a green light from an orange light.

Why aren't you using the color blind settings in iOS accessibility ?
My understanding is that with that setting on, these colors should change to colors you can distinguish more easily.
 

DoctorTech

macrumors 6502a
Jan 6, 2014
736
1,962
Indianapolis, IN
Glad to see they're making improvement; just wish that they would fix the glaring privacy loopholes in Siri, Dictation, and CarPlay!

Have to vent a little. Here's one of the problems. Turning on Siri gives Apple permission to sweep up ALL of your conversations and contact information -- along with all sorts of other information. Here's what Apple says:

"When you use Siri and Dictation, the things you say and dictate will be sent to Apple to process your requests. In addition to these audio recordings, your device will send other Siri Data, such as:
  • contact names, nicknames, and relationships (e.g., “my dad”), if you set them up in your contacts;
  • music, books and podcasts you enjoy;" etc.
https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210657

Each of those things should be optional, up to the user, or handled locally on the device. Worse, though, from a privacy and ethical standpoint, the people in your contact list have NOT given permission for Apple to sweep up THEIR INFORMATION or have it stored on Apple's servers!

Another one. Several years back, Apple promised that Voice Dictation would be done on people's devices, and not on their servers. That would guarantee privacy. It never happened -- meaning that any dictation one does is gathered by Apple's servers and available for review by select Apple personnel. That's not good for privacy, either!

Another. "Siri Data, which also includes computer generated transcriptions of your Siri requests, is used to help Siri and Dictation on your iOS device." How that works when they also claim that the supposed "random, device generated identifier... is not linked to your Apple ID, email address, or other data Apple may have from your use of other Apple services" should be explained better.

Finally, adding insult to injury, one cannot use Apple CarPlay WITHOUT turning Siri ON -- a silly requirement if one doesn't wish to use voice commands in their car AND has no plans on calling any of their contacts. Using CarPlay, thus, transfers all the information that Siri desires to Apple; again, gobbling up contacts' info without their permission. If all I want to do is use Maps, this is invasive and unnecessary.

Apple could do so much better.

(Don't get me started on their recent crippling of ad blockers which turned the Internet back into something usable, enjoyable, non-distracting, and non-irritating!)

<vent off>
I am only speaking for myself as everyone has their own opinions. People have different reasons for wanting privacy (what do they want kept private from whom) and different thresholds of what is an acceptable level of privacy vs data sharing.

In my opinion, Apple is doing an excellent job of keeping my personal data out of the hands of website operators, 3rd party trackers, and app developers. All of these parties would use that data to grow the virtual dossier that big data companies compile on virtually everyone who uses the Internet. Apple also does a great job of keeping our data safe from hackers and identity thieves. These are the privacy threats that I am most concerned about.

The other category of privacy threat is governmental / law enforcement (not just for US users but governments and law enforcement around the world). Apple has demonstrated that they take privacy seriously and has refused to build in back-doors even when Comey's FBI demanded they do so back in 2016. Apple does comply with court orders to turn over data they have but it isn't like they have a choice and Apple is as transparent as the law allows in telling users how often this happens.

For these reasons, I think Apple is, by far, doing the best job of protecting my privacy of any big tech company in the United States so I cut them a little slack on the type of issues you mentioned above. I agree with you from a "purist" standpoint that they could do better but I am OK with CarPlay and Siri issues you mentioned. I think forcing Siri to be enabled to use CarPlay is more of a safety issue so drivers can use voice control rather than navigating multiple screens while driving. Overall I believe Apple is moving in the right direction.
 
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