Privacy War – Shots Fired by Apple at WWDC

Privacy War – Shots Fired by Apple at WWDC

The battle between users and companies over privacy is getting pretty hot. Only a couple of weeks ago, at Google I/O, we were hearing how Android “M” would add optional permissions to Android (one of the most sought-after features on the platform for several years). Indeed, this is something which originated on the iOS platform, and which Google has had in the works for some time now.

Nonetheless, Apple has been hitting headlines recently, with Tim Cook launching a rather forthright and unfaltering attack on Google and Facebook’s data-gathering tendencies. Indeed, he actually went on the attack against many more people than just Facebook and Google, focusing on companies that “built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency”. Which sadly is a lot of them, these days.

Today, at WWDC (Apple’s main developer conference), among other announcements of a new iOS (and the open sourcing of their Swift language), Apple fired what appears a clear shot at Google’s Now product.

Apple WWDC Privacy in Siri

In his talk, Apple VP Craig Federghi talked about how data is processed by Siri without compromising user privacy, on-device as much as possible. He specifically mentioned the lack of cloud-based mining (ahem, Google and Facebook), and how the processing is done on-device, with the data staying on-device. Queries made to their server (for real-time internet-based queries, for example) are kept anonymous, not tied to an Apple ID, and not shared with third parties (another dig at the near-constant data sharing by applications on the Android platform).

At this point, lest you think your author is an Apple shill, I’d add I don’t use any Apple devices, and simply can’t manage to use them. But I must say, I have to admire Apple’s stance. It certainly looks like the privacy battle is heating up, and that Apple will likely be one of the big defenders of privacy on mobile.

If Apple show a “Google Now” experience can be done locally, on your device with Siri, would it make you more sceptical of why Google needs to take your data to their servers? Let us know in the comments below.

Image credit: The Verge live coverage of WWDC

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