New Apple security features look to kill social ‘sign-ins’ and offer users more say on personal data

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Apple is going big on privacy with a host of new iOS security features that let users choose when and where they share their personal data. 

Among the most pivotal features is what the company is calling ‘Sign-in with Apple,’ an Apple-backed login feature that could help cut out competitors like Facebook and Google and make the ubiquitous social ‘sign-in’ buttons a thing of the past. 

‘Sign-in with Apple’ will allow users to opt out of sharing their name and email addresses with apps, and users will be able to authenticate using Face ID.

‘We’ve all seen buttons like this,’ said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering gesturing to two large ‘sign in with Google’ and ‘sign in with Facebook’ buttons during the company’s Developers Conference. 

‘Now this can be convenient, but it also can come at the cost of your privacy. 

‘Your personal information sometimes get shared behind the scenes and these logins can be used to track you.’ 

While sign-in features that utilize Gmail and Facebook accounts allow people to expedite the use of certain apps by auto-populating credentials and information across platforms, they have also been at the crux of many privacy and data breaches. 

Upon agreeing to use Google and Facebook accounts to create logins for outside apps, users often inadvertently relay information, which can include their names, email addresses, age, birthdays, and more to third-parties. 

By using ‘Sign-in with Apple,’ however, Federighi said users will be able to cut out the middle man and instead leverage their iPhone’s native Face ID feature to sign into apps — a move that Apple says will give its users the ability to opt out of unwanted data-sharing practices.  

‘Sign-in with Apple’, which will take the from of a simple button, will give users the ability to either provide their information to an app if they’re feeling trustworthy– typically their name and an email address.

Or in the other cases where users would rather remain anonymous, it will allow them to leverage an encrypted, unique, random address which then forwards information onto users’ real address.   

Users of iOS 13 will also be given more options when it comes to when and how they share their locations. In a new feature, Apple says it will let iPhone users choose to share their location with apps only once as opposed to simply being able to toggle location-sharing on or off. 

To further reduce the options for companies looking to track users, Apple said it will also remove the ability of third-parties to scan users outside bluetooth and wifi connections. 

In-phone security wasn’t the only area where Apple’s had news. With a new system called Homekit Security, Apple hopes to make the idea of installing home security cameras and surveillance more appealing to its privacy-concerned customers. 

By encrypting security footage locally before sending it out to one of Apple’s cloud servers, the company claims that any data scraped up by Homekit will won’t be decipherable by hackers. In fact, Apple says it won’t even be able to look at users information.

To further tighten up the safety of those using Homekit-connected smart cams, users can also purchase special Homekit routers with their own firewalls which will be availble through Links and internet-provider, Spectrum.  

Apple says it will partner with s Logitech, Netatmo, and Eufy, to make cameras and other home security gear that is compatible with Homekit. 

By providing the encryption and storage for home security companies, Apple is taking its first step toward entering a space already occupied by its biggest competitors, Amazon and Google, who own popular security companies Ring and Nest, respectively. 

 

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