Apple's privacy conflict continues with app tracker reports in iOS15.
Users of Apple devices will now be able to see when apps request access to functions like the microphone, camera, and phone gallery, as well as which third parties they've interacted with in the recent seven days.

At Apple's annual developers' conference, WWDC, the new "app privacy report" feature was announced.

Apple has recently prioritised privacy, including a fight against ad-tracking.

Despite initial predictions, no new hardware was unveiled at the event.

Privacy

The new privacy report goes beyond Apple's existing "nutrition labels," which inform consumers about the permissions that apps need before they are loaded.

Users will be able to see when an app used the rights it was given, as well as which third-party websites it contacted or transmitted data to.

"Apple continues to put a premium on privacy," said Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Other privacy-focused enhancements include: audio processing shifting to on-device only - unlike competitors like the Amazon Echo, voice commands to Apple's smart assistant Siri will not be transferred to central servers.

Apple Mail hides the IP address of the device from which it is viewed, preventing marketers from tracking where their emails are sent and whether they are read.

Safari, Apple's web browser, will restrict third parties from seeing a user's IP address in order to prevent tracking.

Safari traffic will be routed through two internet relays, similar to a VPN, to obscure your identity for iCloud subscribers; and the "hide my email" functionality, initially introduced in 2019, will be extended to mask email addresses when used to sign up for a variety of online services.

However, a prior initiative by the internet giant to give customers an option over whether or not to allow tracking for advertising purposes was panned by a number of companies, including Facebook and other free-to-use websites that rely on ad tracking for revenue.

Facetime

Apple also unveiled a slew of new features for its Facetime video chatting platform, some of which look to compete with popular apps like Zoom, which soared in popularity during the pandemic.

There's a gallery option for viewing numerous speakers, a portrait option with blurred backdrops, and the option to arrange Facetime calls and make web links, among other things.

Apple's senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi claimed that users of Android and Windows PCs will be able to join calls as well. The platform has only functioned between Apple devices until now.

The new functionalities are part of iOS15, Apple's most recent operating system.

"Allowing Apple owners to invite Android and PC users to FaceTime conversations via a browser acknowledges the epidemic has fueled tremendous growth in group video chatting," CCS Insight's Ben Wood said.

"Apple ran the danger of falling behind services like Teams and Zoom, but browser-based calling will not be enough to close the gap."

Apple Wallet and digital records

Apple Wallet is getting digital keys, according to Jennifer Bailey of the company.

BMW and Hyatt will be among the first to offer the keys, which will also be available for personal use.

The partnership with BMW was first announced at WWDC 2020, although it has yet to be implemented.

iPhone users will be able to keep their state IDs and driver's licences in selected US states, with the Transportation Security Administration set to be among the first to do so, according to Ms Bailey.

Apple also revealed Live Text, a feature that scans a user's photo library for text that can be searched and copied and pasted between apps, such as a phone number from a business card or menu.

Optical character recognition (OCR) has been used in note-taking apps for years for similar reasons, but Apple's method is built right into the phone's operating system.

Health app

The health app can now track a user's walking stability and send out alarms if they appear to be losing their balance, as well as exercise recommendations to help them improve.

Apple also allowed health app data to be shared with doctors and family members, but only with the approval of the health app user. It emphasised that the encrypted data is not visible to the tech giant.

However, according to Ben Wood, there may be a cultural obstacle to overcome.

"The option to share health data with other family members appears to be an intriguing notion on paper," he added, "but it's difficult to imagine many parents sharing updates with their children."

There could be a variety of causes for a person's heart rate to rise that aren't medical crises.

Others, such as Carolina Milanesi of Creative Strategies, believe it will be adopted by families who live far away.

"My biggest concern about the pandemic was my mother, and I felt like pestering her about it," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/caro_milanesi/status/1401964737630380045

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