Apple’s privacy changes: Apple has unveiled new privacy protections in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and watchOS 8 that it hopes will help users better control and manage access to their data.
The technology company said these features “represent the latest innovations in Apple’s legacy as a leader in privacy protection.”
Protecting data from third parties
In the Mail app, Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from using invisible pixels to collect user information. The new feature helps keep senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.
Intelligent Tracking Prevention has been helping protect Safari users from unwanted tracking for several years, using machine learning on the device to stop trackers while allowing websites to function normally. This year, Intelligent Tracking Prevention has gotten even stronger, hiding the user’s IP address from tracking devices. This means they can’t use a user’s IP address as a unique identifier to link their activity on different sites and create a profile about them.
App Privacy Checks
With the App Privacy Report, users can see how often each app has used previously granted permission to access their location, photos, camera, microphone and contacts in the past seven days. Users can check to see if this makes sense for them and take action by going to the app in Settings if it doesn’t. Users can also find out who their data might be shared with by seeing all the third-party domains that the app communicates with.
Handling audio recordings of Siri requests on the device
Thanks to speech recognition on the device, audio recordings of user requests are handled directly on the iPhone or iPad by default. This solves one of the biggest privacy problems of voice assistants: unwanted audio recordings. For many requests, Siri processing also moves to the device, allowing requests to be handled without an Internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or managing music.
Enhancing online privacy with iCloud+
Apple says iCloud+ combines everything users love about iCloud with new premium features, including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email and expanded support for HomeKit Secure Video at no extra cost.
Private Relay is a new Internet privacy service built into iCloud that allows users to connect to the Internet and browse the web in a more secure and private way. When running in Safari, Private Relay ensures that all traffic leaving the user’s device is encrypted so that no one between the user and the site they’re visiting can access and read it, not even Apple or the user’s network provider. All of the user’s requests then go through two separate Internet relays. The first assigns the user an anonymous IP address that maps to their region, but not to their actual location. The second decrypts the web address the user wants to visit and forwards it to the destination. This separation of information protects the user’s privacy because no organization can determine who the user is or what sites he or she visits.
Expanding on the “Sign In with Apple” feature, Hide My Email allows users to share unique, random email addresses that are redirected to their personal mailbox anytime they want to keep their personal email address private. Built directly into Safari, iCloud and Mail settings, Hide My Email also allows users to create and delete as many addresses as they want at any time, giving them control over who can contact them.
iCloud+ extends built-in support for HomeKit Secure Video, so users can connect more cameras than ever before in the Home app while providing end-to-end encrypted storage for home security videos that won’t count toward storage capacity. HomeKit Secure Video also ensures that activity detected by users’ security cameras will be analyzed and encrypted by their Apple devices at home before being stored securely in iCloud.
Mike Herrick, vice president of technology, Airship
“The mecca of the mobile industry, Apple’s WWDC conference, has just set new rules for consumer engagement that will force best-in-class marketers, advertisers and solution providers to urgently adapt to what will be the new mobile experience in a few months.
“This year, Apple’s hit list is led by advertisers trying to get ahead of the dismal IDFA numbers by using device fingerprinting and email-based identification solutions to create user profiles on unrelated Web sites and apps. Marketers are on alert, too, as email tracking pixels attach to users’ IP addresses and “real” email addresses as a soon-to-be relic, where the only information obtained depends on users’ clicks and subsequent behavior on apps and sites.
“Notifications, which five versions of iOS ago became a central event every time you picked up an iPhone, will become less of a nuisance in the future, thanks to machine learning and user focus settings, where less important, non-urgent messages will be relegated to cross-application review. The benefits of Apple giving users fine-grained control to manage and balance notifications as the most important real-time mobile channel could be enormous, as brands must adapt to changing user behavior, and genuine, user-centric interaction becomes the focus, with less-than-worthy interruptions receding into the background.”
Vice President and Deputy Advisor, John Story, Acoustic
“Measuring the success of your email marketing campaigns with metrics that are largely controlled by a third party, such as email open rates or click-through rates, is not always the best practice. As marketers, we need to think holistically about how to create campaigns that lead to specific actions that we hope customers will take — this is an opportunity to rethink measurement and reporting in the context of customer actions.”
“If you look at the marketing industry as a whole, we need consumer trust for long-term survival, and changes like this help consumers build that trust. Consumers are increasingly interested in how their data is collected and used by brands, something Apple clearly recognizes with its new privacy practices. I expect this will encourage other companies to consider their own practices, and we may see more changes in the industry in the future. But for now, Apple’s announcement is neither a good nor a bad thing for marketers — we just need to adapt, as we always do.
“For marketers, this means that consumers will only become more interested in how their data is used. That’s why it’s very important to consider not only data privacy, but also the ethics of data use and the MarTech vendors that provide it. By integrating ethical data collection, storage and use into the fabric of your brand, you can create personalized campaigns for your customers simply by using different data sources.
“The privacy landscape is constantly changing, and Apple’s ad is the latest wave we have to overcome. Remember that while privacy restrictions seem difficult at first, they will lead to greater customer trust and ultimately greater brand loyalty.”
Jenny Crook vice president of mobile products at Jellyfish
“Apple has taken another step toward giving end users transparency and control over their privacy. They believe that privacy is a fundamental human right that requires no compromise. This means that end users should expect to move from their usual ‘freemium’ services to subscription-based apps.”
“Moreover, iOS 15 packs a serious punch in customer relationship management (CRM). First, the way notifications are used will change: users will be able to either turn off all notifications in “do not disturb” mode or group them based on whether they are currently working or not. Tracking, updated in iOS 14.5, has made retargeting much harder, making it even harder for apps to use push notifications to re-engage with users and break through the noise.
“The second update is email privacy – Apple’s own VPN – where users will be able to hide their IP and limit apps’ ability to get location information; whether or not iPhone users open the email, it will limit marketers’ ability to measure the effectiveness of email campaigns. Finally, the app privacy report will give the user insight into how apps use data and, for example, how often they access the phone’s camera and microphone. Apple is putting privacy at the center of the user experience – only time will tell if this proves to be a unique benefit or a step too far that apps don’t want to take.”