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FAQ Phones

Sign In with Apple will come to every iPhone app: How the new privacy login tool works

Apple has made its in-house Facebook and Google rival mandatory for app-makers.

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Sign In with Apple will appear on apps. You could also use an email address instead.

James Martin/CNET

Sign In with Apple is a new privacy tool that Apple announced on Monday at its annual WWDC event, and it's coming to every iPhones ($999 at Amazon) this fall as part of a mandatory update for developers. The security feature uses your Apple ID, not your email address, to verify your credentials. Apple says this new tool will keep you from being tracked online in ways you may not realize. Along with dark mode and new camera features, Sign In is part of iOS 13. It will also work with your Apple Watch ($349 at Amazon) and Mac. 

Sign in with Apple comes at a time when privacy is a political hot-button issue. Facebook is just one company at the heart of an ongoing security debate that's gripped lawmakers and internet users alike. Most recently, clinical laboratory Quest Diagnostics experienced a breach that exposed the data of nearly 12 million patients. In January, the internet saw one of the largest public data breaches after more than 87 gigabytes of personal information leaked online.

By giving iPhone owners secure ways to log in to online apps and services, Apple is signaling a commitment to privacy that the company has long made a mantra. (Apple Card, its digital credit card, is another example.)

Here's everything we know about how Sign In works. We'll continue to update this story as we learn more.

How does Sign in with Apple work?

Sign in with Apple is a tool that uses your Apple ID as a credential to sign into websites and apps, instead of typing in your email address. With compatible apps, you'll see an option to either tap Sign In with Apple or enter your email -- that's after you verify your identity with Face ID for an iPhone X ($595 at Amazon) phone or by tapping 3D Touch with your fingerprint on the iPhone 8 ($599 at Amazon) or earlier.  

The tool uses your iOS device to verify your credentials, instead of social account logins, which could make you vulnerable to being tracked online.

How do we know Apple's login option will appear in all my apps?

Yes. Apple's terms for developers make that clear: 

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.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple beefs up privacy controls on iOS 13
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Why did Apple make this?

Apple's new tool challenges the idea that you need to sacrifice your privacy to be on multiple platforms. In addition, the company started building the tool when its own employees began to question whether its services could do better. The company said Apple says Sign In service offers convenience without a privacy toll.

The tool is also part of Apple's plan to make privacy a key selling point in contrast to its competitors. The company's rivals use their sign-on services to craft a user profile to create targeted ads. Apple said it doesn't use the tool to profile users or their app activity. The company generates its revenue from the sale of devices and services, and not ads, so it isn't as interested in your information.

What if I want to use an email address instead?

If you'd rather, you can choose to hide your email address and have Apple create a random one for you. You can either choose to share your real one or the dummy email. The app or website will get the placeholder email and any messages will be forwarded to your real email address, so your identity is protected.

You'll also have a unique random email for each app or website, so when you don't want to hear from one of them, just disable the email.

Do I need an iCloud account or just an Apple ID?

We know you need an Apple ID at the very least, and we've asked Apple for clarification on any other requirements.

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Sign In will work across multiple devices.

James Martin/CNET

Is Sign in with Apple just for the iPhone?

During WWDC, Apple only demonstrated the tool on an iPhone, but you can also use it on Mac, Apple Watch and iPad ($329 at Amazon)

How is this different than signing in with Facebook or Google?

Sign In is visually similar to the icons that let you sign into an app or website with Google or Facebook, but Apple is taking a shot at Facebook and Google. Signing in with Facebook or Google might seem easier, but a lot of your personal information is attached to them like nicknames, your hometown, your birthday and more. This information might seem trite at face value, but some of that information is prime security question fodder for your bank account, for example. 

Google and Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment.

Sign In also gives you more control over the permissions apps and websites have access to. You can pick and choose which apps have to ask your permission each time it requests your location data from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It's handy if you're trying out a new app or you don't plan on using an app often, for example.  

When can I start using Sign In?

The new tool will be available, at least on iPhone, after iOS 13 launches this fall (likely September alongside the rumored iPhone 11). For now, the new OS is only available in beta to developers. The public beta is coming in July.

Originally published June 3.
Update, June 4: Adds more detail about Sign in with Apple.
Update, June 5 at 8:17 a.m. PT: Adds more details.

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