Apple on Monday once again took aim at the huge digital-advertising industry and unveiled a slew of changes to protect the privacy of iPhones users and strengthen its position as a gatekeeper between consumers and the rest of the digital industry.
Apple said new iPhone software scheduled for this fall, called iOS 15, will add a so-called App Privacy Report that tells people what data apps are collecting about them. The report will display when an app has accessed sensitive parts of the device, such as photo albums, contact lists, or the microphone. Google announced a similar feature for Android devices last month.
Apple also said that its Mail app will now better protect users’ identities from people who send them emails and will block marketers’ ability to track whether someone opens an email.
Apple also introduced a new service that hides users’ Internet traffic from Internet providers, such as virtual private networks, or VPNs, services sold by several other companies.
The technology routes a user’s Internet traffic through computer servers designed to hide the user’s identity and location. Such technology has been used to get around government firewalls that censor the Internet, such as in China, and it is unclear how Apple’s service will work there. The service will be available to those who pay extra for Apple’s iCloud data storage.
Apple’s privacy push has put the company at odds with some of the bigger rivals, especially facebook, which relies on collecting data about people for better targeted ads. Monday’s announcements show that Apple has doubled down on privacy features, despite protests from some corners of Silicon Valley.
Yet the company’s public branding on privacy has also been undermined by its business in China, where it is risking the data of its Chinese customers and aiding government censorship operations to placate authorities there. is, The New York Times reported last month.
On Monday, Apple also announced new features designed to make the iPhone the only item someone needs to take with them when they leave the house. Apple has already allowed people to pay for items in stores and receive them through subway turnstiles with iPhones. Now it is trying to carry government ID cards on devices. Apple said people can soon scan their driver’s licenses to use the digital versions of the ID, which will be accepted at airport security checkpoints in some participating states and the United States.
Apple is also trying to replace physical keys. The company said it is making it easier to use digital keys to open doors in homes, offices and hotels. Apple said Hyatt Hotels plans to use the technology in more than 1,000 properties starting in the fall.
Apple is also greatly expanding its videoconferencing service, FaceTime. For more than a decade, FaceTime was the exclusive app for Apple users. But it will soon be opened up to web browsers, which will also allow non-Apple devices like Android phones to participate in FaceTime calls.
Apple is adding a number of features that FaceTime callers can use together in a group session. A group can listen to music or stream movies together while on a video call. They can also use certain apps at the same time – like adding food in turn to orders before they get to the delivery app.
The new mobile operating system will also add text-recognition capability to the iPhone camera, enabling a picture of handwritten text to be automatically transferred to typed text or a picture of a billboard to a phone number capable of being dialed. can be done.