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Apple: Our sign-on service doesn't track you like Google, Facebook

Also, Sign In with Apple works on Android and Windows, not just Apple devices.

At WWDC, Apple software chief Craig Federighi announced Sign in with Apple, a service that lets developers use Apple's authentication technology.

At WWDC, Apple software chief Craig Federighi announced Sign In with Apple, a service that lets developers use the company's authentication technology.

James Martin/CNET
This story is part of WWDC 2021. All the latest coverage from Apple's annual developers conference.

Apple took a privacy potshot at competitors Facebook and Google on Monday, saying its new Sign In with Apple service eases logins without sharing users' personal data.

At the company's Platform State of the Union talk at WWDC, an Apple executive showed the two main alternatives that developers can use for handling sign-on: Facebook and Google.

"We want to offer a better option," the Apple executive told thousands of developers at the conference. "It offers fast, easy sign-in without all the tracking."

The service opens a new challenge in the fraught area of user privacy. Tech giants are in agreement that privacy is a big deal, but Apple argues that free, ad-supported services from Google and Facebook compromise your privacy.

However, that position contrasts with a remark by Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook. "We're not really taking a shot at anybody," Cook said of the service in an interview with CBS News' Norah O'Donnell. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

But Brad Hill, a Facebook programmer working on logon technology, criticized Apple for its requirement that any app supporting third-party sign-on also support Sign In. Apple is "using its platform power to privilege its own offering, not setting neutral pro-privacy requirements," Hill tweeted Monday.

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

Apple: Why you should use our sign-in tech

The Sign In service lets developers rely on Apple when trying to get people to sign up for a new account. Apple verifies email addresses, offers dual-factor authentication, cracks down on fraud and gives developers an indication on whether users are authentic.

Sign In works on Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs and Apple Watches. Through the web, it also works on Android and Windows, Apple said. 

At their developer-focused shows in recent weeks, Facebook and Google each touted privacy as a top priority.

"The future is private," Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg declared in April.

"Privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a May op-ed. That stance contrasts with Apple's criticism that free services can turn your personal data into the product they sell to advertisers. 

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First published June 3, 6:16 p.m. PT.
Update, June 4, 8:40 a.m.: Adds comment from Facebook programmer.