All Apple WWDC's privacy features in one place

Apple's latest features look to block trackers used by companies such as Facebook and Google.

Alfred Ng Senior Reporter / CNET News
Alfred Ng was a senior reporter for CNET News. He was raised in Brooklyn and previously worked on the New York Daily News's social media and breaking news teams.
Alfred Ng
3 min read

New privacy features offered from Apple.


Apple isn't interested in learning your most intimate details.

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, unveiled new features for MacOS and iOS 12 that will protect your privacy at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California, on Monday. The new features include blocking trackers on Safari and making it harder for advertisers to identify your devices.

Federighi credited the company's dedication to data privacy for its popularity with consumers.

"One of the reasons that people choose Apple products is because of our commitment to privacy," Federighi said.

Apple typically shows off its latest software at WWDC, but privacy issues have jumped to the fore following major backlashes for tech companies. And data scandals continue to make headlines.

Tech giants, including Facebook and Google, have experienced criticism from politicians, as well as lawsuits, as millions of people become aware of how much data companies have gathered from them. Facebook is still dealing with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the UK-based company obtained data on 87 million people without their permission.

Watch this: WWDC 2018: Best new iOS 12 features and more

In a March interview, Apple CEO Tim Cook said his company purposely chose privacy over profit by refusing to sell customer data.

Still people have raised concerns about how Apple protects your data, in part because it has sold more than 1 billion iPhones and the iPhone X was the top-selling smartphone in early 2018.

Lawmakers have also questioned how Apple will protect data from its face-scanning Face ID, while advocates had security concerns for iCloud users in China. Apple was among the device makers that Facebook gave access for data about users and their friends. Apple's integration with Facebook ended in 2016.

Federighi said Safari would be introducing blockers for third-party trackers on websites, such as tracking cookies from Facebook. 

"We've all seen these like buttons and share buttons," he said. "It turns out, these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not. So this year, we are shutting them down." 

Now when you go on a page with a tracker embedded, Safari will display a prompt asking you if you want to allow these trackers to gather data on you. 

Here are the biggest iOS 12 features Apple announced at WWDC 2018

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Apple's updates also look to end fingerprinting, a practice that allows companies to identify your device based on data like fonts, plug-ins and configurations on your computer. The update gets rid of that by using built-in fonts only, as well as getting rid of legacy plug-ins, Federighi said.

"Your Mac will look more like everyone else's Mac," the Apple executive said.

Apple is also extending permissions requirements to MacOS's camera and microphones. It already uses permissions to make sure that you want to provide your location data to apps, for example. Now, the new operating system prevents apps from using your camera and microphone without your permission. 

That protection will also apply to your mail database, message history, Safari data, Time Machine backups, iTunes device backups, Locations and Routines, and system cookies.

Apple also introduced new features that it didn't announce on stage, including a built-in password manager and password auditing. If you reuse passwords across websites, Apple can let you quickly replace it with an automatically generated password that's stored across all your devices. 

Originally published at 11:59 a.m. PT.
Updated at 12:08 p.m. PT:
To include more details on Apple's privacy updates. 

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