Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
IT | By Emmett Cole

WWDC 2018: Apple puts privacy buttons in Safari amid Facebook spat

WWDC 2018: Apple puts privacy buttons in Safari amid Facebook spat

When an ad tracks a user through information gleaned from Facebook or another data-sharing company, Apple devices will ask users whether they want to allow the tracking to happen.

"Safari now also presents simplified system information when users browse the web, preventing them from being tracked based on their system configuration", said the company at The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.

"We have never been about maximizing the number of times you pick [the phone] up, the number of hours that you use it", Cook said. "So this year, we are shutting them down".

Today NPR spoke directly with Apple CEO Tim Cook about the revelations that hardware makers had access to personal data in the Facebook app. NPR's Laura Sydell was there and joins us now.

But, if it proves to be popular, the possibility of Google adopting a similar feature for Chrome, both on desktop operating systems and its Android mobile operating system, would increase the pressure on Facebook to react. The conference kickoff came the same day the New York Times reported Facebook gave special access to device makers, including Apple, to personal data on social network users and their friends.

Federighi did not name Facebook during his speech, but he did use the social media giant as an example when he shared a screenshot of the new Safari feature in action. When iOS 12 releases later this year, it will be available to all of the same iPhones that are capable of running iOS 11. They have some services. Among them: an upgraded version of its Do Not Disturb feature, more robust parental controls, a feature called Screen Time that will help users track the amount of time they're spending with particular apps, and another one called App Limits that will allow users to curtail the amount of time they're spending with certain apps.

Apple seems to be promoting itself as a tech firm that has a higher commitment to user privacy than Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies, however some question whether this is just opportune marketing on the part of Apple, given the controversy emerging around Facebook. And in demonstrating App Limits, the app that got cut off was Instagram, which Facebook owns.

We really feel that the ergonomics of using a Mac are that your hands are rested on a surface, and that lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do. Cook's: "I wouldn't be in that situation".

The changes are not Apple's most expansive in the privacy space, simply an evolution.

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