Apple has introduced new measures to strengthen user privacy protection, as a point of differentiation from other big tech companies.
At its annual developer conference on Monday, the Cupertino company unveiled a new “Sign in with Apple” button for Apple device users to create new logins on websites and apps.
It’s the same idea as those Google and Facebook buttons but from a company that’s known to be far more trustworthy with customer data — and that has been emphasizing its privacy bona fides as the other tech companies have come under scrutiny.
The service will give users the option of signing up for third-party sites and apps using a unique, disposable email address that automatically forwards to their iCloud email address, while services and apps with which they use this feature won’t know their real email address. Apple said it can authenticate a user using Face ID or Touch ID on their iPhone without turning over any of their personal data to a third-party company.
“A simple API allows a developer to add a ‘Sign in with Apple’ button right in their app. You just tap it, and you’re authenticated with FaceID on your device, logged in with a new account, without revealing any new personal information,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “Some apps may want a name, and maybe even an email to send you information when you’re outside the app.
“We do allow them to request this information […], but you can choose to share your actual email address, or you can choose to hide it,” Federighi said.
During WWDC, Apple only demonstrated the tool on an iPhone. Sign in with Apple is a key feature of iOS 13, which will be available for iPhones 6s and later models. It isn’t clear at this time if the tool will also work on iPads or Macs, not to mention Android phones and Windows machines.
Apps that offer third-party sign-in will require to offer “Sign in with Apple” as an option when iOS 13 launches later this year. “Sign In with Apple will be available for beta testing this summer. It will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in when it is commercially available later this year,” Apple said.
Speaking to CBS News, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the new service wasn’t a “shot at anybody” but a part of the company’s focus on the user. “The user wants the ability to go across numerous properties on the web without being under surveillance,” Cook said. “We’re moving privacy protections forward. And I actually think it’s a very reasonable request for people to make.”