Apple’s use of cutting-edge tech will peek at user habits without violating privacy

“Apple Inc. is tapping new technology to garner insight into user behavior, in an effort to keep pace with rivals’ insights without violating its privacy pledges,” Robert McMillan reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“Called ‘differential privacy,’ the technology will be included in a fall update to iOS, Apple’s operating system for iPhone and iPad. It will help the company’s engineers “spot patterns on how multiple users are using their devices,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, at the company’s developer conference earlier this week,” McMillan reports. “The technology works by adding incorrect information to the data Apple collects. This is done in such a way that Apple’s algorithms can extract useful insights while making it very difficult for anyone to link accurate data back to an individual user.”

“Apple’s short-term ambitions for the technology are limited. The company will use it to keep user data anonymous while analyzing how customers are using emojis or new slang expressions on the phone, or which search queries should pop up “deep links” to apps rather than webpages. It will also improve the company’s Notes software,” McMillan reports. “In the long term, however, differential privacy could help Apple keep up with competitors such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google that collect user data more aggressively and use it to improve offers such as image- and voice-recognition programs.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We avoid Google software and services wherever possible due to privacy concerns.

Apple seeks to use AI to keep Google off your iPhones, iPads, and Macs – June 15, 2016
Edward Snowden: Apple is a privacy pioneer – June 5, 2015
Tim Cook gets privacy and encryption: We shouldn’t surrender them to Google – June 4, 2015
Tim Cook attacks Google, U.S. federal government over right to privacy abuses – June 3, 2015
The price you’ll pay for Google’s ‘free’ photo storage – June 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook champions privacy, blasts ‘so-called free services’ – June 3, 2015
Passing on Google Photos for iOS: Read the fine print before you sign up for Google’s new Photos service – June 1, 2015
Why Apple’s Photos beats Google Photos, despite price and shortcomings – May 30, 2015
Is Apple is losing the photo wars? – May 29, 2015
How Google aims to delve deeper into users’ lives – May 29, 2015
Apple CEO Cook: Unlike some other companies, Apple won’t invade your right to privacy – March 2, 2015
Survey: People trust U.S. NSA more than Google – October 29, 2014
Edward Snowden’s privacy tips: ‘Get rid of Dropbox,” avoid Facebook and Google – October 13, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for government, police – even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
U.S. NSA watching, tracking phone users with Google Maps – January 28, 2014
U.S. NSA secretly infiltrated Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say – October 30, 2013
Google has already inserted some U.S. NSA code into Android – July 10, 2013
Court rules NSA doesn’t have to reveal its semi-secret relationship with Google – May 22, 2013


  1. The term needs to be changed from User Behavior to People Behavior.

    When talking about diferential privacy you can’t produce an association or shouldn’t be able to associate one activity to another, but what you can determine are details about the collective. This is safe crowd sourcing.

    Let’s stop the talk about user privacy at this point as that isn’t the object when it comes to Apple’s goals. Apple is finally showing us how this should be does and we need to demand other companies follow.

  2. Speaking of Google software (specifically browser), I have always avoided Google Chrome, Firefox is not so secure, Safari I don’t care for … what about Chromium … thoughts anyone?

  3. Google tells you right up front about the data collection their software does. This is how you pay for their software and services instead of giving Google money directly.

    Apple charges you money for their device, and services. That being the case, I would fully expect to have the option to turn all “peeking” off.

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