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Privacy (apple.com)
446 points by Nuance on Sept 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 425 comments



Have used Android for years (I have been using devices like Pro, rooted, custom ROMS, skins whatever you might imagine). Shifted to Apple's echo system 2-3 years ago. It took me some time to get used to iOS but integration across devices (my mac, my iPad, my watch) is simply amazing. I am not going sound like broken record or fan boy here. Apple got me on this video where Steve Jobs really showed how much they care for privacy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39iKLwlUqBo the other day my wife got a notification from Google Photos that it prepared our Album from our trip to SFO. We have turned of location tagging and everything, turns out Google is not content with me asking them to leave me alone, they would use ML and whatever they have built to figure out where I have been. In this day in age, while Apple might sound outdated to a lot of people, nothing can beat the sense of security with privacy Apple carries with itself now.


> nothing can beat the sense of security with privacy Apple carries with itself now.

That is exactly it. Apple is not good at privacy, they are good at giving you the sense of it. A closed source OS, on proprietary hardware, where they don't even give you root access to your own device, will never be private. You pay them, but really they own the phone and you have to trust them.

But they are obviously very good at making you /feel/ secure and private.


Take my Sony Xperia phone. Is Android Open Source? I think it isn't. Is the hardware proprietary? OK I can root the phone probably, but then what? How can I trust the new ROM if I can't really know what's inside? Google wants to make me feel secure, so they do their best to provide tools to protect my phone and account.

Now tell me what serious alternative there is for a modern smartphone? Firefox and Ubuntu have abondoned their phone OS, and they had no good working system that could compete with Android or iOS? Windows Phone? How's that better than Apple's offering?

Apple seems to have the best arguments here.


Android is not FLOSS obviously but the point is that you can 't do more than having blind trust for the manufacturer. Having the best argument is not the same as as actually offering the best privacy.

You could try jolla or fairphone or even a blackphone (or one of the governmental only privacy oriented smartphones not available to the general public).

But this is somewhat irrelevant as having a smartphone with a GSM chip is a severe privacy issue in itself whatever the hardware/OS. Even a simple mobile phone is a privacy liability unless you take some precautionary measures.

To get some privacy one has to accept to have less comfort and ease of use, privacy and security are a tradeoff. something only a few actually do.


Android is actually FLOSS. The problem comes when people want to add a Google account.

You can use a free version of Android? Yeah! You are going to lack some stuff tho. Google Play Services provides geolocation services, the app store, push notifications,...


I don’t think it stops with the Google software. You will still more likely than not have proprietary binary blobs running in your kernel to support your proprietary hardware executing proprietary firmware that is as large as operating systems themselves, the largest with the biggest attack surface waiting the process anything they can on 2G, 3G, 4G, WiFi and Bluetooth bands.

Android is more open than iOS but it’s not really open enough to make a significant difference, not for 99% of users and not really for the 1% that think it is more secure or private because they run a (heavily modified, very old, probably abandoned by the manufacturer) Linux kernel but ignore the baseband and closed source camera driver.


I think you're confusing android and android open source project (AOSP) here. Android is AOSP + Gapps.

Even the FLOSS nature of AOSP has been questioned for years, but as a manufacturer it's impossible to offer a phone with AOSP, to be able to use android you have to include the Gapps.

Google has slowly been moving functional parts from AOSP to Gapps, the point being to limit the AOSP part and eventually get rid it of the open source part.


You don't need GApps to run Android. The only closed source blob you need is chipset and modem drivers.

And no: AOSP is Android. It's like saying that Linux is not Linux unless you bundle it with GNU-utils and wrapped by Canonical.


I think we are confusing two different but related terms in these comments.

1. Privacy of information

2. Freedom to inspect, modify and change source code.

So Open != automatic privacy of information.

The question then really boils down to do you trust apple to be doing what they say they are doing? Or would you prefer to verify it yourself? (open source)

I think Apple is betting that point 1 is much more important than point 2. More people also care about it. Hence the strategy.

Actually the more I think about it the more i realize this may be apples master stroke strategy. Google, Facebook etc. business models are primarily based around monetizing your personal data. Where as apple is saying you can have the same level of services but with out having to compromise as much of your data.


Few other points which may be obvious but non the less.

Apple is actually uniquely positioned for this strategy, since the do not need to sell your data to companies. They make their money of the devices.

It's probably one of the reasons google has been moving to more and more devices. To neutralize the Apple threat.


I don't think privacy can be measured by counting the number of lines of code that are open source.

A device can be perfectly respectful of your privacy despite being closed and proprietary.

The only difference (IMO) between open and closed platform is that with the former you can have 3rd parties inspect it.

However, unless you have the resources to fully audit an open platform (either yourself, or by paying someone else) I believe you should assume the worst from both open and proprietary platforms.


Even if it actually is, there is no way to know if a closed and proprietary is respectful of your privacy. It is a matter of blind trust.

Which does not mean that open source is synonymous of privacy either, only that one can go further than blind trust to the manufacturer.


There's more than the device code. They're not going to open source their entire web infrastructure. They DO store your data, somewhere. Either way, you need trust.


Exactly!

As another example, Telegram claims to be the most secure messaging app out there. They have open-sourced their code, but what really matters is what they do with peoples' data on their servers.

> They're not going to open source their entire web infrastructure.

I think blockchain can actually solve this problem once and for all. When data is stored in decentralized nodes, much of these concerns are gone.


That's going one step further but you're right those computer phone are made so the user will have some of its remotely stored.

Personally I do not trust them and for this reason I have no data plan and no internet on my phone.


You do not neeed blind trust. Download the firmware and reverse engineer any aspect you are concerned about, problem solved.


While it sounds intuitively correct that both open and closed platforms can be malicious, it is justified to a priori distrust a closed system significantly more than then an open one, because opportunity makes the thief.


> Apple is not good at privacy, they are good at giving you the sense of it.

Nothing in your reply counters Apple being good at privacy. Source availability is related to privacy in your own personal opinion.

If you would like to audit each line of source code your phone will run, that is fine, most do not. Personally I like to have it both ways by regularly cracking open various components of iOS in a disassembled (ARM assembly is just as good as source code to some folks).


As opposed to what "open source OS" on what "open source hardware"?


My comment wasn't meant to compare it to anything else. Their nice words just don't convince me on a technical level and I'm surprised that so many people here appear to fully trust them. If their phones were perfectly secure there would be no debate if they are willing unlock the phone for any agency or not. It would simply not be possible and there would exist no security company that is able to do so.


> If their phones were perfectly secure there would be no debate if they are willing unlock the phone for any agency or not.

Total security is not possible, not at least by a long shot.

Although, I understand your concern about why people trust these companies. While I don't know the answer just yet, I think one reason is that most these companies are located in Western countries where "rule of law" is considered extremely crucial. Openness about balance-sheets, government policies, and privacy are - to the best of my knowledge - critical in the US.


The only way for Android to be any better is to basically cripple it and make it incapable of running the vast majority of apps. So Apple might not be perfect on this, but it's basically as good as you're going to get without huge compromises imo


Which consumer electronics company is good at privacy?


This is simply an example of Google actually providing you with a service in exchange for the information you give them. If your iPhone photos include the same information but they don't give you a (admittedly mediocre, I've never saved one) album which uses that data in exchange, you're not maintaining any more "privacy." You're just not being made aware of how little privacy you have when syncing to a cloud-based service.


The Photos app on my iPhone does geotagging and creates relevant albums of trips away.


Yup! But what’s cool is the iPhone does all of that locally on the phone instead of on the cloud.


And it does not allow any app to export it once you archive your photos - oh, except for iCloud which is a super-expensive pay-to-play service beyond the first few photos.


Super-expensive? It’s $10/mo for a 2TB plan, which is less than the 1TB plans from both Google and Dropbox!


Know that since three months it isn't expensive anymore, but it launched over 6 years ago. So it was 5 years and 9 months expensive, since 3 months it's not expensive.

BUT, there is no 500 gb plan. So everyone who wants more than 200 gb is paying for 2TB.

They are earning more, just in a smarter way


I have 33,000 photos and it's happily under 200GB, which I pay £2.49/mo for.


You can store any kind of files on iCloud or only photos/video?


any


Not the parent, but I think the mentality that the user is wrong and misunderstands their (intentionally limited by Google) options with regard to privacy is why people move away from their ecosystem.


Try integration across devices that are not apple's and you'll understand that apple is a hardware seller and this marketing scheme is to push you into buying their devices and keep you locked in as long as possible.

The difference with other big players such as facebook or google is that google business is selling ads based on giving software for gratis and facebook business is being the parasitic middleman between people and their data / online interactions (also company) and scrambling to make the investor story time lie believable as long as possible. They both indulge in strong vendor lock-in.

My point is that apple is not in this to protect your privacy or to defend humanist values but to get more people to buy their hardware for increased profit and shareholders.


Why do you care about the motivation when the outcome is aligned with your preferences (i.e. your privacy being respected)?


It is a tell that it only appears to be aligned and actually is not. (Among my preferences is to not buy/use apple devices for a variety of reason: overpriced, battery life, short life expectency, lack of control and vendor lock-in, having to unlearn 3 decades of muscle memory, etc.)

Where there is vendor lock-in there is no possibility for freedom and freedom requires privacy. Apple has a long history of being the king of vendor lock-in.

My understanding is that apple does not protect privacy, it merely does not disregard it as effectively as the other big players because apple is different in the sense that its business is selling hardware.

Just look at what the posted page actually says: it presents touch id as secure despite being repeatedly shown otherwise, it pretends a complex passcode is secure but it will not protect your privacy when someone is asking you the code with a hammer. It phrases things in a way to induce the reader into thinking apple does not gather data about users: "Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations." which actually means Apple gather your personal information to exploit themselves and to give away or trade with third parties. And so on...

Being better than the worst does not mean it's good enough.


Could you explain the vendor lock-in? The only-one I experienced is a rather soft-one, where I use an Apple device simply because it's more pleasant or practical over the alternatives. All music I had in iTunes is now moved into Plex, so no lock-in there, Apple even pushed for DRM-free music.


It has been self evident for so many years that now that you ask I don't know what to say. Vendor lock-in is so ingrained that it actually defines Apple.

Here are a few examples: try making a backup of your iphone without icloud or itunes (or manual update of iOS, or restoration) try sending GPS coordinates to a non iphone try exporting your contacts to a non iphone When apple finally offered DRM-free music on the itunes music store but refused to licensed their ALAC lossless codec preventing the music to be listened on other devices until it was reverse engineered[1] try installing software on an iphone without using the app store and jailbreaking the iphone jailbreaking is actually made to remove the limitations imposed by apple to its customers integration only works with other apple products

the list goes on

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Apple_Inc.#Accusa...


I've seen real vendor lock-in on corporate level, where in the worst case, the vendor of a client suddenly just did an x20 of the licensing price for the next year, for something that was already a very expensive contract. The client had no other choice but to pay up, moving to another solution would cost many times that cost.

There is nothing Apple does that even remotely resembles such practices. I want to buy an Android? It'll take some time to migrate stuff, but I've done that before, it's not that hard, just time-consuming. It won't cost me multiple times the cost of buying another phone, and I won't lose any data.

> try making a backup of your iphone without icloud or itunes

Is offering a way to backup a device lock-in? It's the same as "oh no you have to use pg_dump to export a postgres database". Also, there are 3rd party apps you can use to backup your phone. And if you make local un-encrypted backups with iTunes, there are many tools to extract stuff like your messages history, and if you really need to - you can just find the right file, fire up sqlite and browse/recover them that way.

> try sending GPS coordinates to a non iphone

Whatsapp can do that, Google hangouts too - there's nothing stopping an app from doing that? What's your point? That you can't send an iMessage to a non-iOS device? I suggest you have a good look at all the alternatives, which can be installed without a problem on an iOS device btw.

> try exporting your contacts to a non iphone

I've done this on multiple occasions. I've had a harder time exporting contacts from Google than from iCloud/iOS devices. Apple simply uses the vCard standard.

The App store would be a vendor lock-in if I could only install Apple made software from it, which is not the case. I use many competing services and apps on my Apple devices.

And yes, ALAC was a problem for a while, but they did release the en/decoder source code under apache2 license in 2011. There are other things that smell a lot more like vendor lock-in: Siri and the maps integration in iOS, but again, that's more an inconvenience than a real hard lock-in.


Exactly. I'm totally fine with economic incentives aligning with improved privacy and security, which is exactly Apple's business model. Apple has made security and privacy "easy" to the end-user, which is no easy feat.

Apple is not a charity and nobody thinks of them as such. For example, the "RED" campaign is an effort to sell THINGS, but it also gives money to charity. Seems win-win to me.


You're right that Apple services don't integrate as nicely across non-Apple platforms. (Isn't that true of many things?)

However, to dismiss it as a marketing scheme is somewhat disingenuous. It may achieve that, but there are plenty of people out there who simply think they make the nicest hardware. The tight integration is icing on the cake. I own almost entirely Apple hardware. If I thought something else was nicer, I'd get it. I don't.


Why do you expect FOR PROFIT corporations to behave like charities or non-profits?

It's telling how you describe Google in comparison; Google is "giving software for gratis" and Facebook is "parasitic." Google is no different than Facebook: using the person as the product to sell advertisements.


I made a full circle. First, I was in love with iDevices. Then I was more and more uspet by their limitations - notably inability to directly copy content (music, videos, e-books) to and from as I wished. Mind you, these were the times that in order to even start using the phone you needed a computer with iTunes installed! So I switched to Android, only to discover you need to handle over so much data to Google you have a feeling they know more about you than you do. In the end I realized Android is just a data collection platform. I switched back to Apple, even though I still use some Google services (like Maps).


If you take the time, but you need to be computer affine, you can setup your Android device to use non Google related services. This is hard work, you need to know about the implications of using one application or another and you have the feeling that Google is trying in every single dialog box to force you enabling data tracking options with dark patterns (like enabling location reporting).


You can use Android without Google. It's easy with LineageOS.


It's not. Unless you buy a specific devices LineageOS offers good support for, and even then it's only the start.


There are a lot of devices that are supported by LineageOS. I lately bought one for a family member and the search did not take long.


I'm not saying it is hard to buy a device supported by lineageOS, I'm saying that other than buying a device for this purpose chances are your actual device or the device you had plans to buy are not supported.

This happened to me enough times that I do not even bother looking up compatibility and consider lineageOS as not an option to save myself time.


To put things in context, this discussion started because dvfjsdhgfv said they bought another device because of bad privacy on Android with Google. This means getting rid of Google was already a deciding factor when shopping for a device.

> the device you had plans to buy are not supported

Because of said context, one simply wouldn't have the plan to buy that device.

Checking for support is only a click away:

https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/


Interesting you say that. Android actually gives you control over security and privacy by telling you what your app API's get access to. iOS apps could be transmitting details back to home without your knowledge.


> Android actually gives you control over security and privacy by telling you what your app API's get access to.

Simply mentioning a laundry list of the myriad things an app will be permitted to do is NOT giving me control over security and privacy.

http://cdn.makeuseof.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/03-Angry...

That's not control, that's bullshit.

Apple got permissions right long before Android did: no third party apps have intrinsic permission to use the microphone, address book, location etc until the OS asks me on behalf of that app. And I can always say no if I want.


That hasn't been the case since android 6 (they're on android 8 now). That picture looks like this now:

https://www.howtogeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/ximg_56...

It works just the same as iOS, where the first time an app wants to use your location/etc it asks android, which shows a prompt:

https://uit.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/images/2016/08/...

And can be revoked as well:

https://img.gadgethacks.com/img/81/78/63633813117897/0/snapc...


iOS is different in a subtle way: once you grant an application permission to use location/microphone, it will show a banner if a background app is using it.

Once you grant e.g. permission to access the microphone to an Android app, it can do so at any time without you noticing. Until you manually go to the settings and revoke the permission, that is.


This happens only if the permission is for ‘while using the app’. This permission means that part of the app needs to be visible on screen and if it’s not, the banner will show.

If you change the permission to ‘always’ the banner won’t show.


That only applies for location access. Even then, you'll see an arrow in the status bar and there's a page in the settings that lets you see which applications are actually accessing your location in the background, and how often.

Mic recording, on the other hand, is always user-initiated and very explicit.


I've heard right here on HN that even in the newer versions of Android, some (prominent?) apps don't work well if you don't grant them the unnecessary (from the user's point of view) permissions. I haven't seen something like that on iOS so far.

With the pace of Android adoption, the new permission model isn't even present on half the devices that have been tracked on the Android Dashboard. [1] Versions 6 and 7 combined are at 48% adoption as of this moment, according to this dashboard.

On the iOS side, the granular permissions model has been around since the last seven years or longer, IIRC. And iOS devices have a much higher rate of new OS adoption, which means almost every iOS device currently in use has the same permission model for a lot longer.

[1]: https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html#Pl...


> no third party apps have intrinsic permission to use the microphone, address book, location etc until the OS asks me on behalf of that app.

Actually some of these permissions need to be requested by the first-party apps as well. You can deny the built-in Maps application location updates.


Yeah, but there are things like some game can backdoor the clipboard while submitting a score or whatever.

I like to know if an app has access to the network. If it does, don't install unless I trust the parent company.


> iOS apps could be transmitting details back to home without your knowledge.

Erm, so could Android apps? You don't need to request permission for internet access anymore.


Privacy controls exists both in Android and Apple platforms, but you can be sure of one thing: if you choose to save your data on either clouds, they have the ability to use it for their platform (ML, advertisement suggestions).


Not if that data is encrypted with a key that they don’t have. Which is what Apple does.


True, but alas not for every service as far as I have understood it.

I am particularly interested in storing my photos somewhere, but the details about the encryption have not led me to believe that Apple can't access my photos, which is a must-have requirement to me.

Source: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202303

It says 'encryption-server: yes' for photos, but around this table you have the text:

" For certain sensitive information, Apple uses end-to-end encryption. This means that only you can access your information, and only on devices where you’re signed in to iCloud. No one else, not even Apple, can access end-to-end encrypted information."

and

"These features and their data are transmitted and stored in iCloud using end-to-end encryption: - iCloud Keychain (Includes all of your saved accounts and passwords) - Payment information - Wi-Fi network information - Home data - Siri information"

So alas, no photos.


Wouldn't Google be in the same position? They could grant their apps privileges without your knowledge. They build the OS.


Oh sure, but google has everything to lose for leaking personal data. Rogue app companies simply have nothing to lose


> At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right.

It is established knowledge that Apple has been for a very long time (and remains) a partner of the NSA's PRISM mass surveillance program.


Not willingly so.

Apple appears to be doing as much as it legally can to get around that fact, such as in providing end to end encryption on iMessage.


It can't do much legally. If Apple was serious about protecting privacy it would move operation to a different place where law actually still offers some privacy protection.


>If Apple was serious about protecting privacy it would move operation to a different place where law actually still offers some privacy protection.

Do you appreciate what your asking? You're honestly saying if they do something this radical then they're "not serious about privacy"?


Erm, there's a misunderstanding here. I'm saying they cannot be considered as being serious about protecting privacy because they operate from a country that has anti-privacy law.

If they did move to a country with privacy protection then privacy protection could be considered possible.


The claim that you have privacy when you buy an Apple product is still a lie.

If you buy tech from one of the US big corps, you simply have no more privacy. That is a simple fact.


[citation needed]


PRISM is an endpoint for companies to upload data in response to court orders. The alternative would be that they have to provide the same data but employ an army of engineers to manually scrape the results together.

I’m not convinced this is somehow more virtuous than doing it automatically. The warrant was signed, Apples hands are tied either way.


>Google is not content with me asking them to leave me alone, they would use ML and whatever they have built to figure out where I have been

Which is precisely why I stopped syncing my images to Google.


There's an Android app for https://syncthing.net/ that makes it fairly easy to sync photos between computers+phone, without anything going to the Cloud.

(There's a crowdfund going on for an official iPhone app for Syncthing: https://www.bountysource.com/issues/7699463-native-ios-port-... )


In tht interim, fsync() is a decent read-only Syncthing client.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/fsync/id964427882?mt=8


My girlfriend tried that on her iPhone, but it often didn't update the list of files, or updated only after a very long time, so she went back to emailing herself stuff. fsync() unfortunately still feels very beta.


What’s the alternative? Apples Photo’s app is perfectly incapable of syncing photos between 2 Macs and a phone as far as I can tell. It’s not cheap and I’m yet to see it work.


I have over 30,000 photos/videos in iCloud (357GB). Synced between my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad.

Works extremely well for me. Set it and forget it.


Anything marketed "cloud" is a privacy liability. Using this defeats the whole privacy issue raised here.

Besides syncing 357GB requires some serious internet which is a privilege of a limited few.


Currently on ~75k photos+videos in iCloud Photos and yeah, syncing is now[1] really good between Macbook, iPhone and iPad. There's times I've saved a photo on the phone and it's been on the iPad before I've swapped devices.

[1] It has been flakey as a weasel's taint in the past.


Doesn't your iPhone capacity get full up? Can you selectively choose what is synced? Last time I tried (a few years ago) it was all or nothing


Everything lives in the cloud. Once the photo has been uploaded only the preview is stored on your phone. When you tap on the photo or use the photo/video, the phone pulls the full file down from the cloud.

You can set this in the photos setting. You have the option to store all content locally while also backing up everything in th cloud. However, none of my devices have the space for 357GB of photos so I default everything to “optimize local storage”.


I would like the ability to have a single "always local" folder for putting a selection of photos in. Handy for when you have no network, etc.

"Favourites" seems to -almost- have this priority in that they'll more often than not be on the device regardless of age and whether you've specifically downloaded them but it's not -quite- there.


iOS saves space by only keeping thumbnails locally and loading better versions on de-mand.

You’re gonna be fine :)


I use a couple of things. All photos go to my local NAS (QNAP has an app that does this automatically). They also go to iCloud and I don't have the problem you have with it but then again I use it only for mobile photos so I don't really care about sync as much as about backup.


I’m using it with a 45Gb photo library between a phone, a Mac and an iPad with zero problems.

It does take a while for things to arrive at all destinations due to my crappy internet connection but for me it works quite well.


CloudKit, the API Apple introduced a few years ago and what iCloud syncing is built on, has been pretty rock solid. I think your complaint has been the first one I’ve heard about Photos syncing.


People say that apple is dead now that steve jobs is gone. They point to the fact that whenever he leaves apple, apple starts to crash. The difference this time is that he appears to have left a legacy and a succession plan. The other times, he just left and apple decided to run itself differently. Steve Jobs and other staff have engrained privacy into the company, and now apple are pulling it out when it is needed even though he isn't even alive.


He did not left as much as been kicked out. Then again he did not engrained privacy but obsession with control into the company. Apple wanting to be in control of every aspect of everything means better apparence of privacy compared to the usual share with third party for profit. The explanation is that the usual is for services based on software who have nothing to sell while apple sells devices.


Google Photos's automatic indexing of pictures is one of its best features. They're not trying to figure out where you have been, they're just saving you the work of tagging your photos. If you put your SF pictures in an album called "Trip to SF" in Apple Photos and sync it with iCloud, Apple "knows where you have been" just as much as Google does.


It's not really the same because if the NSA wants to know where everyone has been, something automatic that applies to everyone is of significant value, while trying to mine Apple's data of people personal folder hierarchies is worthless.

Also, we know Google is actively engaged in mining this data in order to do something. Today it's to improve the user experience which I believe is an honest motivation, but inevitably this empowers a surveillance apparatus that both governments and powerful corporations want.

I think it's worth pushing back a bit on the sort of standard operating procedure of tech companies today, and question where this is all leading. Apple are definitely not saints, but at least they provide something resembling a dissenting viewpoint on the issue of customer data privacy.


That is true, their picture indexing is magical and I don't have any issue if they knew I went to SFO, I mean whats the big deal?

Just a story, I took a picture of my car three months ago, someone asked me to show a picture of my car, I just went to google photos, typed "Grey car" and voila ... This is the future.


Given that:

- Apple was part of the prism program;

- they denied it;

- their platform is so closed you can't have remotely any idea what's it doing;

I would put Apple in the same bag as anyone else and assume they give away everything and then make a big PR noise to pretend they don't.

Only fanboys or naive people would believe the contrary.


iMessage is, as far as anyone knows, end-to-end encrypted.* There is a macOS client, so it seems likely that any backdoor in the encryption would have been found via diassembly by now.

* looks like Apple is trusted for key discovery. Abuse of this trust could be tested with the Mac iMessage client. That can’t detect a targeted attack, of course, but I don’t think that’s what you’re claiming is happening.


Openssl was open source and we still got Heartbleed. It's a long strech to think wd can audit correctly imessage by reverse engineering it.


Difference is that on Android you can use pretty much any photo app/service that you want. Nothing's forcing you into the arms of Google. I don't know much about iPhones, but as far as I understand you don't have much of a choice.


You can even use google photos app on the iPhone. There is no limitation.


Ah, cool. But then I don't see why Android vs iPhone is even a topic here. If the original commenter installs Google Photos on iPhone he'll have to accept the same privacy policy. The underlying OS has nothing to do with it.


There is no reason to discuss android vs iphone, it is the modern version of a classic endless troll.

A privacy version of the godwin point is mentioning google instead of the nazis. Mention the worst known offender and you'll look better in comparison.


Yeah, I don’t know where you’d get that impression. If you want to use Google Photos on the iPhone, you can go ahead and do that.


As I said, I don't know much about iPhones. Thanks for clearing it up. Now I just fail to see why the underlying OS is of any consequence. Seems like the original commenter is making an "Android vs iPhone" issue out of something that has to do with a specific application — namely Google Photos.


Well with iOS you aren't tied into Google's data mining operation. You just have that option.


The original comment was about Google Photos, which isn't forced on you in Android either...


You know what else they launched in 2010 ( when this video was made)

iAd..

It isn't successful though, so i hope you can read between the lines of Apple caring about privacy ;)

PS. I'd like to see if they limit the knowledge of Siri because they care about your privacy.


Another comment mentions why it wasn't successful basically because Apple wouldn't give up user information and dictated banner size.


You mean statistics about who the visitors are? Personal information is never given out, so that's a bogus reason


You are splitting hairs. What the parent commenter meant is that Apple refused to collect a lot of the information that advertisers were interested in to target their audiences.


Google are really starting to annoy me in this regard - I've been an Android user since 2010, never owned an iPhone, although I've owned Macs and iPods in the past.

For me, Google are very good at giving you security settings and then completely ignoring them or resetting them to defaults when you're not looking. This in addition to, if you want to be able to do anything with an Android phone, even things that don't even seem to relate to this, you have to consent to giving Google more data to mine. You can't just turn on your location to allow your weather app (regardless of its backend location provider) to show you your local forecast, you have to consent to sending your location to Google on a regular basis. Granted, with most of the processing done on the Google cloud, it's probably unavoidable now.

My current gripe with them, though, is that I specifically switch off my GPS. Two reasons for this - 1. is battery life. I have no need for my weather app to refresh and then get my pinpoint location (which it will, it just requests the most accurate location available from the subsystem) when the cell-tower location will suffice. 2. is that I have no desire for every app on my phone to be able to work out where I am at any time.

On several occasions, however, I'll be in a commercial establishment (shop, restaurant etc.) and a notification on my phone will appear, asking me for further information about the exact store I'm currently in. I've been asked to review the restaurant or if I know the website for the fish and chip shop I'm standing in. How does this happen? Why, the Wifi-Scanning-in-Sleep-Mode option gets randomly re-enabled, of course. And because Google decided to log the SSIDs and MAC addresses of every broadcasting wireless network when they drove the Street View cars, this information is as accurate as GPS. Not to mention, I switch my wifi off when I'm not using it for battery reasons, and this totally undermines the point of having a Wifi Off switch.

I keep switching this option off and Google keeps switching it back on. I'm beyond fed up with their total lack of respect for my privacy. There's also the fact that, not only do they go out of their way to figure out where I am, they then expect me to answer questions. It's like a man in a Google uniform suddenly leaps out of the nearest bin with a clipboard as I'm either waiting for dessert or walking out the door.

I've experienced the Apple lock-in before with my iPods and I'm not keen to sign my life over to an iDevice, but I am getting to the point where they seem to be the only way out of this cycle.



>In a free system, the users could have done this themselves years ago instead of waiting for Apple.

Is this satire? If there's one thing the open source movement has proven, it's that without the backing of a business very little will happen. If there were some "free" mobile system out there, the only way it could work is if there was a "red hat mobile" type of company funding its development. Random "users" generally wouldn't fix anything just as they don't fix Linux/Mozilla/etc. bugs now.


Canonical (Red Hat, Ubuntu editon) tried to build a mobile OS. It got scrapped.


The video you just mentioned is a little bit more than 3 minutes, without technical evidence and spoken by one of the best public speakers we've seen. It's ok thinking that Apple focus on your privacy but make sure to see some real evidence.


Apple is pushing the privacy angle pretty strongly now, and I can't really blame them. It's a key differentiator between them and their chief competitor.

The phones are good on their own, but when choosing between having every action tracked and keeping some things to yourself, unsurprisingly a lot of people want privacy. Here's hoping their marketing can help ordinary people who wouldn't normally care about privacy see why it's important (and maybe score some wins for privacy at the polls in the future!)


Honestly on verge of switching, despite my deep disdain for the locked down walled garden. Hopefully their privacy stance is a raging success and catches on to every other service that I only minimally use due to the 'surveillance chill' effect. (..goes back to tracking my users)

If only it wasn't for that fscking no headphone jack..


I was also upset about the lack of a headphone jack. When I got robbed and lost my iPhone 6S, I bought an iPhone 7. Similar to a comment down here, within a week; I was on a bus and I got stuck with my earphones cable. Phone went flying.

I decided I had enough of cables and bought a pair of wireless headphones. I am never going back to cables. The battery of mine lasts for 12 hours when continuously used. I charge it while I sleep. Now I am not missing the headphone jack anymore.


Do you realize you can have both a headphone jack and wireless headphones? Best of both worlds.


I don't believe that's the point he's making here. He's saying that he was annoyed that the iPhone 7 doesn't have a headphone jack, but after an accident (while using an adapter with the iPhone 7), he's convinced that wireless headphones are the best option, regardless of the device having a headphone jack or not.


I use a Taotronics dongle with non-wireless Etymotics with my 7. Gives about 20 hours between charges. Apart from a couple of ANNOYING UX glitches, it's a magical device. Brilliant on long walks - phone can go in the bag with a battery pack.


great move towards accelerating climate change and end of limited resources. you're a good obedient consumerist. keep privileging your own comfort over the global good.


This is exactly what's keeping me in Apple's garden... I hate how they're moving core MacOS services away from open source, how they don't document their APIs, how they lock down their phones... and yeah, I miss my headphone jack, too.

Obviously they know damn well that there are people like us who value privacy enough to buy Apple in spite of all of the other unpalatable stuff. I just hope the demand gets high enough that other companies start catering to it as well.


> I just hope the demand gets high enough that other companies start catering to it as well.

Well, it's kind of the business Google is in though — selling your "privacy".


Yeah, I don't expect anything better from them. I'd love to see some kind of decent open-source linux distro for phones, but I'm not holding my breath for the near-term future.


I recently bought a new Android phone, not out of any love for Google and their horrendous privacy policies, but out of love for my headphone jack.

Apple, what were you thinking?


Apparently Google is also ditching the headphone jack[1] on the new Pixel line

[1] http://bgr.com/2017/07/27/pixel-2-rumors-no-3-5mm-headphone-...


Luckily for consumers Android is a diverse ecosystem not controlled by one single manufacturer. There are many devices with headphone jacks to choose from.


What makes you think the other major manufacturers aren't going to follow suit?

It may just be a matter of time. Especially if 2 major companies normalise it, then all the other companies get to drop a feature and save a few cents on every phone.


Samsung's still making a flagship line with a stylistic after pretty much everyone else dropped smartphone styluses; and they brought back external SD cards, too, which a number of manufacturers (themselves included) dropped from flagship lines.

It's possible that dropping headphone jacks could become universal, but I don't see any reason to expect it's likely.


I can see wireless charging and waterproof devices becoming the norm.

Most people also buy headphones from popular brands rather than attempt to discern on sound quality.

I see quite a few AirPods and Bluetooth headphones these days. I don't think you can discount the possibility.


If there are enough customers that really want a headphone jack and everyone else was ditching them, it'd be a point of differentiation and hence worth those few cents for some manufacturer to offer one. I suspect that won't happen though because it'll transpire that most customers don't really care that much.


Which usually don't have OS upgrades beyond what they were sold with, and Project Treble won't change that, because OEMs are the ones expected to ship OS updates.

So headphone jacks without updates, hurray!


> Which usually don't have OS upgrades beyond what they were sold with

Flagships usually do (Samsung flagships, and numerous phones lower in their line, tend to get two major version updates.)

> and Project Treble won't change that

If update practices are something a worthwhile market segment looks to in buying decisions, and Trello makes it easier on OEMs because their is a cleaner isolation of the device-specific pieces, then, I'd expect it to make more OS updates happen.


On my home country the minimum wage is around 400 euros, not many people can afford two month salaries for the privilege of getting OS updates.


Good thing I can compile my own Android builds.


99% of regular consumers don't.


I hope so, I never use my headphone jack. Wouldn't miss it for a second. Would much rather have a more waterproof and thinner phone.


All the more reason to curse Apple for its "courageous" step :(


I used to think that was a huge issue. But my friend bought an iPhone 7 and he says it's just not a problem in practice. He keeps the adaptor permanently attached to his (non-Apple) headphones. It's not like you have to fiddle around with the adaptor every time you use your headphones.

Obviously I'd prefer to keep the jack socket on my phone, I'm just saying it's a minor issue. I think people like to focus on it because it feels like the prototypical Apple dick-move, but it's not that big a deal e.g. compared to the walled garden thing.


I’m going to be honest, I bought a 6s instead of a 7 because of the 3.5 jack and within a week managed to shut the earphones in a car door. This lead to a trip to my local electronics retailer to get some replacements. They only had lightning ones so I reluctantly bought them.

So far, this isn’t really crippling. I use some sennheisers when at home with the mac and use the earphones when I’m out. If they remove the 3.5 jack from the Mac I’ll be more pissed.


> Apple, what were you thinking?

Reasonable steps towards a waterproof phone?


Sony has no problems making a waterproof phone with a headphone jack.

(Although you do have to give it a shake when you take it out of the water)

https://support.sonymobile.com/global-en/dm/water-and-dust-r...


> Apple, what were you thinking?

They were thinking that AirPods and similar are the future of audio.

And for those who have more discerning needs they ship a dongle with the phone that you can leave permanently attached to your wired headphones.


Have they solved the "I want to charge my phone but also listen to music" problem yet? Or does it still require ridiculous amounts of daisy-chaining?


The Apple way to solve that is: you pay them a $159.00 wire removal fee, they will eliminate the wire part of your headphones.

https://www.apple.com/airpods/


So we pay a ton of money for good headphones. Invest in high quality audio services. Then buy a new phone, are forced to buy shitty ear pods that pipe audio via a lossy audio codec.


Or you can use wireless charging which leaves the lightning connector free.


I guess with wireless charging you can now do so.


> > Have they solved the "I want to charge my phone but also listen to music" problem yet? Or does it still require ridiculous amounts of daisy-chaining?

> I guess with wireless charging you can now do so.

Guess that settles that debate then, glad we can put that to rest going forward. (...I realise this sounds weirdly sarcastic?, but it's actually not)


"Paired with wireless earphones, you don't need a headphone jack or a charging port"

(facepalm)


Exactly, awesome right? I would love a future without ANY cables.


> And for those who have more discerning needs they ship a dongle with the phone that you can leave permanently attached to your wired headphones.

But only one at a time - charger, or your dongle connected wired headphone. At some point, that phone's going to run out of battery. My normal use case is that I go on long drives with the phone getting charged using the car charger, while the audio output being sent to the car stereo. This change breaks my workflow even with their free included accessories.


I am seeing a strange trend on HN. Whenever someone writes something even remotely critical of Apple, it's downvoted, even if it's a fact. I neither wrote an opinion here, neither something insulting to anyone, it's still downvoted. I never thought I'd have to write the term 'fanboy' on HN, but that's what looks like the case.


Yay fanboys!! :)


"iOS 11: toggling wifi and Bluetooth in Control Centre doesn't actually turn them off"

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/21/ios-11-ap...

"Quick switch simply disconnects phone from access points and devices rather than turning off the radios, in move criticised by security researchers."

"On iOS 11, pressing the wifi toggle immediately disconnects the iPhone or iPad from any wifi networks, but leaves the wireless radio available for use by location services, scanning for the names of nearby wifi access points. The Bluetooth toggle operates in a similar fashion."

"To actually turn off Bluetooth and wifi users will need to head into the Settings app and manually turn them off, which deactivates them until 5am the next morning"

"But security researchers warn that having either wifi or Bluetooth active when not in use puts users at risk of attack, calling the change “stupid” and “not clear for the user”. Only recently researchers demonstrated that, due to a weakness in the implementation of Bluetooth in some smartphones and tablets, hackers could wirelessly hijack a device without the user having to accept a connection or download anything."


But security researchers warn that having either wifi or Bluetooth active when not in use puts users at risk of attack, calling the change “stupid” and “not clear for the user”

Let’s be clear. Leaving WiFi or Bluetooth active puts users at risk of attack in the same way that leaving your house to go anywhere puts you at risk of getting in a traffic accident.


>which deactivates them until 5am the next morning

How cynical can you get? Jeez...


> when choosing between having every action tracked and keeping some things to yourself, unsurprisingly a lot of people want privacy

Do they? I hope that's true, but the fact that Apple is selling it doesn't mean people are buying. Most people I talk to still have zero concern for privacy, unfortunately.


"Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations."

Apple is taking a direct jab at Amazon, Facebook and Google.

My friend who works at Facebook confirmed they actually buy shopping data from Amazon (and in fact many companies buy your credit card shopping history), and internally Facebook has a tool where you can search someone's name and see their shopping history according to the data collected from Amazon. Of course the tool is monitored and all searches are recorded. My friend only ran the search on himself, but he said it was a little shady that this tool exists.


I work with data scientists and it’s scary how much they have access to.

One first hand story: this person searched a database to find tax records for a specific individual and their income. The records were de-anonymized but there’s enough data there he could figure it out.

We should design systems to preserve individual privacy. The person I heard the story from had no business in this persons tax records.


Can you clarify this term - “de-anonymized”? It reads like the word “anonymised” is what’s meant.


"de-personalized" or "anonymized" would both work as valid interpretations in that paragraph, in case that helps you gain understanding while waiting for a reply.


anonymization is a process supposed to protect privacy by removing directly identifying information from a data set, de-anonymization is the reverse process (identifying someone in a dataset with no directly identifying information), proving that anonymization does not work.

For example, let's take phone location records, just look where the phone is every night of the week and where it goes every morning and you have the home and work address of the owner which is more than enough to identify the phone owner in pretty much all cases.


De-anonymising would be detecting/creating a person's identity from sets of "anonymised" information, I'd assume.


D’oh. I meant anonyomized (I would edit comment but can’t).


It's really nothing new. Relatively-low-level IT staff have been able to access the CEO's emails, mostly unabated, for the past couple of decades now. Very few companies actually have working data protections of any sort, let alone audit trails. I've seen setups where virtually anyone with a computer had access to real, valid personal information, including birthdays, employment history, and raw SSNs, of hundreds of thousands of people. This is 100% the norm.

In the digital age, privacy is not really a thing, and for the most part, anyone semi-integrated in modern society should just expect that virtually all information about themselves, including things like shopping and television watching habits, conversational "metadata" that is not-quite-so-meta, and so forth is quietly being trafficked by all kinds of parties. Only a tiny portion of that traffic is actual identity theft, though each step along the way increases its likelihood.

Do not make the mistake of believing this is exclusively limited to online activity either. Wikileaks has revealed that the government would remotely hijack a common brand of wall-mounted televisions and activate the internal microphone (???) to listen to private conversations, and this has long been a speculated use of cellular phones. Many people willingly stream everything that happens in their home, video and audio, to Google via the NestCam or similar devices.

If you've carried your cell phone on you, BigBroCo knows that you were (or weren't) at church on Sunday, Walmart on Tuesday, and that you spent a suspiciously long time parked in the far corner of a parking lot yesterday.

It's pretty likely that the relevant parties have already deduced which transaction in Walmart's payment systems was yours and have indexed the contents of your shopping run (even more likely if you've explicitly enabled this by using something like Walmart Pay in the Walmart app). Transactions are tied to your profile and it's all shopped around not only through AdWords but private B2B databases that want the information to try to target you with relevant solicitations. This is trivially visible in a variety of ways, since almost everyone is using such programs in some way or another.

It's naive to assume that such gold mines have never tempted anyone, especially when many of the people with an interest in accessing some of that data would also know how to bypass any auditing systems that may exist, and especially when there are many people who'd be happy to grease a few palms for the inside scoop.

We're coming in on the world where interest in the vast trove of personal data expands beyond targeted marketing and ultra-high-level political malfeasance. We have a thorny and potentially very scary road ahead of us.


He probably meant to say deidentified.


>"Apple doesn’t gather your personal information to sell to advertisers or other organizations."

Facebook and Google can say the same without lying. Apple's iAd is the ad-network and Apple sells the categorization (male, 14-21, likes dogs) of you based on your personal information. As do G and F.

So it's basically PR double speak.


"The iAd App Network was discontinued as of June 30, 2016" (wikipedia)


Is this meant to refute the argument, or suggest that it's no longer relevant?

If the argument is sound, the question instead becomes: Did their privacy focus start at that date, or did the iAd business case evolve into something else?

That iAd was discontinued is the wrong focus. I want to know whether they actually care about privacy, since there is so little insight.


This PR turn of phrase is really obvious for anyone with some skill in reading this kind of document.

The whole document reads like novlang and PR marketing propaganda.


I've never actually seen an iAd. Maybe it's US-only?


This is probably common knowledge: If I browse an item on say, backcountry.com, I'll find ads immediately for that same item on facebook. I leave reviews, sometimes negative ones for items I've already bought on backcountry, so it's kind of strange to then try to get sold the item, again. This is done by cross site cookies, though, right?

Buying credit card shopping history (or something very similar) was highlighted in a Malcolm Gladwell book, but I forget which. If I search for, "Malcolm Gladwell" and, "Target" I just get SEO pages as search results, trying to sell me his books. Oh what a world!


Apple certainly collect all the data they want. They dont sell it, BUT they now owned your personnal data and they can change their policy any time and be able to sell it if necessary.


I've recently got into FPV quads hobby. After some shopping at banggood.com and some Youtube videos I see ads for flight controllers and other FPV stuf everywhere, including FB.


To me this sentence reads as "Apple gathers your personal information to take advantage of internally and give at no cost or trade to third parties."


It's great that privacy advocates now have such a powerful ally as Apple. Even if it's only just for raising public awareness in that privacy online is important.

They are not perfect by any means, but it definitely takes the discussions about privacy, encryption and personal data protection away from the "don't be paranoid" or "just don't be a criminal" territory.


I still see those sentiments frequently, even posted non-ironically and even on HN. It baffles me. People don't seem to value their rights, especially if they aren't using them. What many don't seem to realize is that the loss of liberties may impact them when they do decide to use them.

They may not feel like they need privacy now, but what about what they do becomes taboo? Rights need to protect even the worst among us, and they are eroded by using the worst among us as examples.

I don't really have anything to hide from the government, but I damned sure support the 4th. Some day, I might want to hide something and be secure in my person and papers. I don't like most criminal activity and I don't like terrorists, but I really don't want them being used as an excuse to erode my rights.


I care very, very deeply about privacy. I have such conversations with people more often than not. It seems difficult to make people understand the value of privacy and other things we consider as rights. Most of them don't seem to find any problem with government overreach and seem to have enormous trust on the government of the day and all future governments and forces. They also have the same kind of trust on corporations like Facebook and Google.

I keep looking for more resources on educating people (and keep some of those around). But we really need to spend a lot of time to make people aware about what they're giving up.


Exactly, I personally don't feel like I have anything particular to hide, but I fully 100% support people who do feel like they've got something to hide, and their right to privacy.

So for now, they can have my data. But I try my very best to avoid letting Google et al. infer other people's actions from mine, so I don't tag people in photos or otherwise expose them or their actions, without their consent.


> I fully 100% support people [...] and their right to privacy. [...] So for now, they can have my data.

Unfortunately, these are conflicting goals. It is not enough not to tag photos.

For example, if you use Gmail, they have your address book, hence they have names and emails of other people.

Or, if you publish photos of a group of people, and Google/FB/etc. have working face recognition, they know these people are connected with you (and with each other), and at which time and location you all came together.

But imagine they don't even get that from you. If they know private information from yourself, you are training their system to extract that information from others, too. For example, if you are homosexual then you tech them how to recognize homosexuals. If you are heterosexuals, you teach them how to better distinguish homosexuals from heterosexuals. Same for other types of private information.

It is impossible to show everything from oneself, and at the same time respect the privacy of vulnerable people nearby oneself.


By extension, it is utterly impossible to avoid exposing information about yourself, unless you live completely off the grid.

I try to have as low an online profile as I can, though.


We are very similar, in those regards. I don't mind if people post my photos, but I ask that they not tag me in them. I don't have any accounts on what people call social media sites. (I'd argue that Slashdot qualifies as a social media site, for example. I don't have twitter, Facebook, etc...)

I have been a sort-of, low-level, public figure. So, I don't mind if people post my picture, I'm used to it. I just ask that they not tag me, specifically in non-public spaces. I only have so much privacy, really. I mean, I've been in newspapers, magazines, and on television and radio. I don't mind if those things get republished, but I'm happily retired and my private life is something I'd like to keep that way.

Err... I'm not famous or anything. Well, I'm famous to maybe a dozen people. I had some brief fame when I sold my business, but that was it. I'm not even notable enough for a Wikipedia article, I don't believe. I'm a mathematician who helped bring traffic modeling to the age if computers, that is it. I got lucky and sold my company. It was to a publicly traded company and so there were SEC filings and the likes.

That's the extent of my infamy.

Since then, I've retired to the side of a mountain in Maine. It's nice and I live here because it's very remote. In return, I get some privacy when I want it. People are good about that here.

But, I don't really have anything to hide. I will happily tell you all sorts of information - about me, and only about me. It's not my right to tell you about the private details of other people.

So, I don't mind being posted if I am in a public space. I don't mind, within reason, if it is in a private space - but don't tag me and certainly don't tag me in a private space, or tag the people with me. Basically, don't put me in a position where I am used, willingly or not, to compromise the privacy of another person.

I don't think that's too much to ask. Just, you know, be smart about it.

So, yeah, I can see where you're coming from and very much agree. We're pretty similar in those regards.

Also, speech... I don't have anything offensive to say. Yet, I'm a very adamant supporter of the right to free expression. I am even willing to defend the free speech rights of Nazis and Nazis pretty much hate me. I'm not white, not on the political right, and I'm not a huge fan of strict nationalism. Not that they need all those reasons to hate me, they hate me just because of my skin color.

But, I still strongly support their rights to free speech. If I can't support their rights, it means I had no principles to begin with. Besides, someday, my speech may be considered harmful. Someone has to defend it.

Sorry for the novella. I need to sleep soon.


Impressive to see a detailed page dedicated to affirming privacy as a "right". One of my first thoughts was, "it'd be nice to see a white paper" -- which Apple does when you get to the bottom of the "Approach to Privacy" page (linked to from the submitted URL): https://www.apple.com/privacy/approach-to-privacy/

There's a link to an iOS security white paper that was published in March 2017. And there's one for FaceID. Not sure how if any of the info was previously unknown, but the paper's publish date is September 2017: https://images.apple.com/business/docs/FaceID_Security_Guide...


Some discussion of the FaceID white paper began ~12 hours ago:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15349372


> Impressive to see a detailed page dedicated to affirming privacy as a "right"

That's just marketing speak for "we failed to make a business out of tracking you, so now we're spinning that to our advantage". If Apple had succeeded with iAds, you wouldn't be seeing this page now.

Just business as usual.


All the evidence and all their past actions point to the contrary of what you're suggesting.

See examples like iAd, Siri, Photos app, Maps, and Apple Pay. Review the San Bernardino case and notice how firm they stood despite the extremely negative PR.

There are so many instances where the easiest and most profitable path forward was not the path Apple took. We as consumers wouldn't have even noticed in the moment if they went down the easy path, but we notice now because of the consistency and belief in their own actions. That speaks for itself.

They've earned the right to market the principles that they've demonstrated over and over again whether publicly or more privately (e.g the reasons for iAd's failure that another poster mentioned).

It's a business at the end of the day and it always will be, but a statement like that on it's own is completely meaningless. I think most of us can agree here that this is an example of the right and honest way to do business.

Also, whether we agree with the privacy stance or not and whether we accept the tradeoffs or not is completely irrelevant to this.


Well I'm not sitting in judgement of Apple at the pearly gates, I'm a consumer trying to decide what brand of electronics to get. So I think it is fair to say it impresses me on that level to see them so committed to privacy.


iAd was a failure because Apple wouldn’t give advertisers the user data they demanded and dictated the size and locations of ads.


Maybe. But it's hard to know how much of Apple's current stance on privacy comes from Tim Cook, rather than simply being a natural evolution of Apple's direction under Steve Jobs (iAds began in 2010).


Exactly. I try not to be so cynical, but this is so clearly a marketing tactic that research and emerging trends have shown is a winner for them, since they are so far behind in the AI race (and AI can't succeed without data, so by harming people's acceptance of data harvesting they in turn reduce their competitors' advantage).


Privacy has been big at Apple for a long time, this video was posted in this thread of Steve Jobs talking about how important privacy is to Apple https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39iKLwlUqBo


As a lifelong Android fan, I'm more and more convinced that I want to pay for an apple product in the future.


I read a book at one point about amassing wealth. One of the principles it said was critical was to always make contractual agreements that are generous to yourself and the other party (something like that). I think there’s something at play with apples products in that regard. Back in 2003 when I first bought a Mac privacy wasn’t a sales point for their hardware. But overtime the profit margin on apples products may be why they haven’t felt the need to “sell their users”. There’s wisdom in being willing to pay fairly up front.


I agree with both of these statements.

My hacker side wants to get an android for all of the obvious reasons, but I really appreciate the fact that Apple's marketing interests are aligned with my privacy. I also appreciate that they are making a point of actively crusading for it. It's a fully selfish, profit-driven move on their parts, which is precisely why I like them: I don't have to trust them and their capricious future stockholders to "do the right thing", because they already make money by doing so. We're in equilibrium already. I am often disappointed by Apple's decisions, but their strategy is working on me, and I don't feel that I have a realistic alternative to protect me from hackers and over-enthusiastic government agencies (at least in the near-term future).


I agree with your assessment, I'm certainly warming up to Apple products, where I absolutely wouldn't have considering buying one just a year or two ago.

I'm still not fully convinced (I'm very comfortable in my DIY PC/Thinkpad/Linux/Motorola/Android device bubble right now), but considering I barely even play that many games or anything anymore, I just want a desktop and a laptop that let me run a web browser, Spotify, a media player and a few token games with relatively low system requirements. So far, my 7 year old DIY PC (3.3GHz Phenom II X6, 16GB RAM, Geforce GTX460) and a 5 year old refurb Thinkpad T420 are both doing quite well, so I am quite unlikely to spend the required money to get into the Apple ecosystem.

I do like playing around with old Mac stuff like System 6 and Mac OS 8/9 in emulators, but that's not really the same thing :-)


Yeah, my 7 year old middle-of-the-line MacBook pro is still kicking, so I haven't had to seriously think about upgrades. One of the annoying things is that I won't be able to make my next MacBook last that long because I won't be able to replace broken stock parts or upgrade ram/storage. I appreciate the tradeoffs inherent in modularity/replaceability vs. portability, but a huge part of the appeal of old macs was their ridiculous lifetimes, which I don't expect will be as long going forward.

I mean, my 2010 MBP has 16GB of ram and a 512GB SSD. The benchmark stats are awful for CPU/GPU/memory/storage speeds, but it's pretty pathetic that 7 years later I can't even choose to get a new mac with more memory.


Apple is in dire need of giving their entire lineup a serious kick in the pants, they've been way too focused on iPhones and iPads. The Mac Mini is crap, the Mac Pro is crap, the iMac is middling at best (the new iMac Pro looks reasonably sweet, but the price...), the Macbooks are severely spec-limited, it's just a mess.

They've painted themselves into a "thinness at all costs" sort of corner with the Macbooks, and they've have to go back on that and make them slightly thicker again, if they want to upgrade them. Last time they were backed into a serious corner (G5 PowerPC being completely unsuitable for mobile use and disappointing performance-wise), they took a chance and switched to Intel. They're going to have to mess with some important core design tenets this time.

For the desktop line, a new non-stupid Mac Pro will go a long way. They also need to seriously refresh the Mac Mini, because it's just a piece of junk right now.


Don't forget the upgrade factor. I find it totally ridiculous that you're forced to buy external enclosures for pro-grade equipment instead of just having a nice, toolless access panel for upgrades. I miss the tower Mac Pro, which looked beautiful partly because it looked like a practical, industrial tool designed for easy physical access. Not everything needs to look physically seamless...


The "cheese grater" was a beautiful machine. Sleek, serious, industrial. It looked powerful and cool.

Cool enough that a lot of people still reuse them as PC towers now.

The trash can looks like... A trash can. I'm kinda curious what they'll be going for in the next one, if they've learned something.


I think it has more to do with Apple. I say that because other luxury products, like expensive cars, track the shit out of you.


As a long time Apple user who has moved to Android, I wish that Apple's privacy also didn't come with a highly restricted walled garden.

I would love it if the level of Apple privacy came to Android but not if it meant losing the tiny bit of openness that Android has over Apple.


I find myself dreaming more and more about PostMarketOS [0] and it's potential. I cannot wait to try this out after cell and data have been integrated (I have not checked in 30 days in case it anyway had but I suspect it is at least a few months out)

[0] https://postmarketos.org/


What do you think about the Librem 5 phone, who are collaborating with the KDE and GNOME people to create a consistent mobile interface where Matrix is a first-class citizen?


I am interested to see where the librem phone goes but I am not sold on it yet.

I am excited about it, but do not like the idea of asking for donations/funding without having design completed yet... my concern is I give money then do not like a decision they have made.... in any case I am watching it closely, what about you?


Which kinds of restrictions have you run into, in the Apple ecosystem?

I'm asking because I've only ever owned one Apple products (an iPad Air 2 that was gifted to me) for a short while, and I chalked up all the limitations to simply being due to being a tablet, and not an full-featured computer.


If I had only Apple products, my Amazon Echo would be useless (no app in the store in my country to activate it -- I sideloaded it on Android). I run Firefox as my primary browser on my Android tablet, on my iPhone it's Safari only. I run a few different mail clients on my Android phone, on iPhone you have one default mail client. Etc.


The Echo thing is an Amazon problem, I think.

And I was under the impression that there were several third party email apps for iOS?


The echo thing is that Amazon makes it US-only and Apple happily obliges and hides the app from me. There isn't a lot that is more anti-consumer than that.

I downloaded the Android APK and sideloaded it on my Android device. Sure, the echo doesn't support Canadian addresses (although it does have Canadian content) it otherwise works fine.


Again, that's an Amazon issue. Apple doesn't region restrict apps, the app developer does that when they add it to the App Store.


The Apple issue is that you have no alternative. The app is similarly region restricted on the Google Play Store. If there was a Windows version, it would be similarly restricted on the Windows store. But only on iOS do I have no alternative to getting it.

I'm happily running the app on my Android device despite it being region restricted. Sweet sweet freedom.


Your wish will never come to be as the very reason for apple's privacy is the walled garden and vendor lock-in.

Which is why I'm not getting into the apple walled prison with a garden inside.


That's not true though. The OS provides most of the security (and should). I'm not against the existence of an app store is a primary install source that is vetted for quality. But I appreciate the option of being able to side-load applications and choose which applications I want to use for primary tasks like web browsing, email, etc.


I agree. I wonder how many people are in this same boat. Judging by the strength of this particular marketing push, I'm guessing it's a lot. I've had an Android phone for years now and it's getting a tad too creepy - which is a shame, because I much prefer Google's services to Apple's.


What do you find creepy about your phone? The difference between Android and iOS is that with the former, you get to choose which services to use. If you want maps that track you to show traffic, you have multiple options. If you want offline maps that don't send any data off the phone at all, you have multiple options there too. Any of them can become the default maps app that gets loaded whenever you click a location link. Same for browser, email, phone calls, contacts, etc.


I think the point is that it’s a surprising amount of work to make all these choices right, so it’s sort of easier to pick a platform that aligns with your view on privacy by default.


It seems to me you cannot make the right choice at all. In either case (android/iOS) you have to relinquish a very significant amount of privacy.


Another way to look at it is that there is a spectrum between privacy and usefulness where Android lets you choose any point on that line, defaulting to usefulness, while the iPhone forces you into a strange point on the spectrum between privacy and usefulness that doesn't seem to be a good fit for anybody. For example, Apple's email service and maps service are both significantly less convenient than Google's, but a privacy-conscious user would use neither (offline maps and PGP email), which is not an option on iPhone but is on Android with the simplicity of installing an app. Similarly, a privacy-conscious user would not want anybody to know what apps they have on their phone, which is not an option on iPhone but is on Android (simply don't install apps from the Play Store).


which is not an option on iPhone but is on Android with the simplicity of installing an app.

The iPhone also supports installable apps :)


But as I noted above, the iPhone does not let you change the default apps by simply installing them. Instead, you have to hack your device.


I've got a significant amount invested in the Google ecosystem, but I think when this S8+ stops getting updates I'll be going to Apple (it was a tough choice between an iPhone 7 and the Samsung this time). Besides, I can always get a ~$150 phone from AliExpress to hack on.


As a former Windows fanboy and current Open Source/Android/Linux proponent, steps like these move me slightly closer to not being completely opposed to the idea of owning Apple products.

I used to own an iPad Air 2 (given to me during a course I was taking), and it was a super slick and very well-integrated device. It just had some odd limitations that I was not a fan of, so I moved back to a Thinkpad running Linux. But I had pretty much the same experience with my previous tablet, an Asus Transformer Infinity, so it was probably more of a general tablet thing.

The main thing keeping me from buying Apple products these days is the price, and of course the fact that no proper Apple desktop exists, outside of the super underpowered Mac Mini and the silly trashcan Mac Pro. I have a perfectly good display already, which I intend to keep for a long time, so I don't want an iMac.

And I very much dislike the Apple Evangelism and super-annoying slavering fanboys, to whom Apple can do no wrong ever, and all other tech companies are basically banging rocks together, in their perception.


Same here, next phone iPhone 8 is going to be my phone of choice.


Privacy over freedom?, both get data, information. both don't sell. Google sell AD, not your personnal data.


I am an Android user and I feel more safe with my data there than on an Apple device. I'm open to being wrong - why is iOS more safe?


It's much less about being hacked, and much more about what Apple will do with your data vs. what Google would do.

Apple sells hardware, resells apps and media. Google sells advertising.

The hardware company's interests are much more in line with the interests of your privacy than the advertising company. It's about what Apple will do willingly with your data and what it won't do.

Google's entire purpose is classifying and measuring you so that the ads it serves you are the most effective. In other words you are their product, or more specifically, they sell the ability to manipulate you to the highest bidder. Ok that's a little harsh, but with the last election a large (and seemingly apparently growing) factor in the result was the ability of each side to manipulate populations of voters. It's not too much to want as much as possible to minimize the attack surface for organizations to profile and serve you information tailored to shape your behavior.

The issue with how far Apple apparently went to protect the data of one of it's (mind you, entirely guilty) customers[1] makes a person think that buying Apple is a preferred choice. I'd like the ability to own my devices and data to the extent that the government or the manufacturer cannot give it away without my agreement.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/29/apple-vs-fbi-all-you-need-to...


Was an interesting to read (albeit wrong) until the election conspiracies.

You try to separate the two companies using their main source of income, but in the end they are both surveillance apparatuses. Their surveillance may end up being used against your favor despite the unofficial contracts from their PR. Read the fine print for more information.


> they sell the ability to manipulate you to the highest bidder

This seems more like a description of Amazon. I understand Google and Facebook to be data hoarders: they build up the ability to manipulate you and use it in putting together the ads they serve, but they jealously guard it, rather than sell the ability on.


They're selling it by exposing targeting tools to advertisers which can only get more elaborate with time.


But the advertisers don't know anything about me personally. I don't really mind if I'm just an anonymized data point in a sea of millions.


Personally, I am not worried about being advertised to. I'm worried about my data being my own. As in, not accessed by other people. In this respect, Android seems no less safe.


Consider photos. If I understand correctly, Apple is trying to do all the object/scene recognition stuff on the device itself, while Google requires you to upload your photos to the 'cloud' so they can analyze it there.


Apple still needs data to build these locally running models. They advertise differential privacy as a solution for that but researchers aren't impressed (https://arxiv.org/pdf/1709.02753.pdf).

Meanwhile on Android you can opt for a different photo gallery app, giving Google _nothing_ to work with, while on iOS you're stuck with whatever Apple allows you to use.


Meanwhile on Android you can opt for a different photo gallery app, giving Google _nothing_ to work with, while on iOS you're stuck with whatever Apple allows you to use.

You can install whatever photo gallery app you want on an iPhone and use that. It’s mildly less convenient, but not really a big deal.


That's good to know, thanks!


When have iCloud users been hacked outside of phishing attacks?


I was thinking of the iCloud celebrity hack, but you're right - Wikipedia explains that it was initially thought to be a hack, but turned out to be due to phishing. (Though it does mention an exploit that could have been taken advantage of at the time.) I've edited my original comment to remove that part.


Did already everyone forgot the case where Apple insisted on the truth that they don't track you and a few weeks later one found a hidden file on the phone with the tracking info since it was bought? Apple told us that it was a mistake and removed every evidence with the next ios update. The only real privacy one can get is by not using apple, Android, Google, Facebook and so on. The others have to judge the tradeoff of having a powerful device vs. leaked privacy and being the product, not the customer.


Bugs are not the same as intentions.


Are you claiming a full on device tracking feature was a bug? How do you accidently implement that?


Are you aware of how and why that functionality worked?


I really struggled with my most recent phone purchasing decision but ended up sticking with iOS because, despite how much I love the customizability of Android, I feel like the stance Apple has taken on privacy over the last few years is something I want to support.

I understand that for them it may just be a business decision and differentiator, but it is one that is important enough to me to keep me on their platform.


That's interesting, because as a long time android user (I had an iphone 3G back in the day when it was one gen old, android since then), I'm going to struggle when it comes time to replace my Galaxy S6. Not only does Google make it hard by only offering high-end stock phones now (Pixel), Apple stepping up their commitments to privacy (not just this, but everything the last few years) has really helped counteract the bad taste I get from some of their policies.


I’m curious: which policies?


App store policies mostly, such no browser engine except Safari, no replacing functionality offered by a built in app (is that still one? It was for quite a while), etc.

There are policies that empower the user, such as making applications subscribe to specific security permission sets and notifying the user what those are, and there are policies that restrict the user, such as only allowing signed applications delivered through their own app store. To my mind, Apple is much more willing to restrict their users for what they see as their own good, as well as for Apple's profit. Android isn't perfect in this regard either, but it's better (at least for a lot of brands, which allow third party applications if you jump through the right hoops).


In my view, Apple has been slow to make iOS more flexible and less restrictive. I'm hoping that some of the above limitations would be removed in some way in another few years.

Allowing a third party app to be set as default for some function could be done right now, but Apple doesn't seem to think it has any incentive to do so. I'm not expecting that change anytime soon, or ever.

Some other changes will be done in a methodical way without compromising on the app sandbox and other restrictions placed on apps to maintain privacy and security (if not enhance them). I'm guessing third party browsers with their own engines could come to iOS within a few years.

Some other limitations, like allowing apps from a non-App Store sources (except the Xcode side loading available now, for which a Mac is required), would never be lifted.


> Some other limitations, like allowing apps from a non-App Store sources (except the Xcode side loading available now, for which a Mac is required), would never be lifted.

A Mac and $99 a year. That's not cheap, and given how infrequently I replace my phone, might be up to an additional 50% on the base cost, even if you have the Mac. Around 2011 or 2012 I wanted to play around with making an iPhone app. I never did because I didn't have a Mac and didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars and a $99 fee on top of that just to play around.


Since Xcode 7, a free dev account is all you need to sideload. $99 is now just if you want to distribute apps.


Well, that's half the problem down, now they just need to ship Xcode for Windows or Linux.

I used a Mac for work for a couple years 5-6 years ago. It wasn't horrible, but it definitely grated in areas. Mainly in how the window manager switches applications, and windows within the application with different commands, and for my usual workflow (lots of terminals and a browser) that was extremely annoying. It might not have grated so much if I wasn't coming from a custom FVWM config I had been revising for over a decade, but the limitations of the OS X window manager were maddening at the time.


Or if you plan to use your app for more than 7 days. https://www.reddit.com/r/jailbreak/comments/4hotx3/news_free...


> such as only allowing signed applications delivered through their own app store

Isn't this more of a restriction on developers? I know as someone who's coded Mac apps since the 80s that Apple has been very much users>>developers.

While it restricts what you can install (i.e., no f.lux a closed binary), it also prevents a lot of potential malware from spreading.


It also restricts users: they can't use apps Apple doesn't like (including malware, where it is good, but far from only malware)


> no replacing functionality offered by a built in app (is that still one?

Not App Store policy, but can’t change the app handling the functionality at least for the main one I care about Maps.


The app store policies you state are no longer in force, eg:

- Chrome, Opera, and Firebox on iOS

- Google Maps, Waze on iOS (and others)

Restrictions that empower users on iOS ultimately restrict developers. That is an essential power balance "problem". Which side one prefers sure says a lot about that person ;-)


> The app store policies you state are no longer in force, eg: - Chrome, Opera, and Firebox on iOS

On iOS, any "third-party" browser is just a wrapper around Apple's rendering engine.


Opera gets around this by doing the rendering on their server and pushing the results to the app. This also enables them to do things like a VPN without additional software and image/page compression being done server-side, instead of using the Safari engine (blink or webkit?).

At least that is now it was very recently. As in, within the past year. I'm not sure if it has changed since. In May, they announced they were slowing development down. I haven't followed up with that.


While commendable that Opera achieved this (although Opera Mini isn't exactly new), it's still a gross hack.

And when it comes to privacy, moving the outer half (network, rendering, input handling) of your browser to the cloud is a disaster.


Refusing to add a right mouse button?


The single button Apple mouse has been dead since 2005.

You’re literally repeating a meme that has been dead & incorrect for longer than the MacBook Pro has existed.


Do they actually ship two button mice? They've had the ability to read both buttons for ages, but from my recollection, they still never shipped a two button mouse, and even when they started shipping mice that had the functionality of the two button mouse, they reduced it to no buttons in doing so.[1]

A person could be forgiven for thinking there might have been a powerful person at the top that didn't want to be seen as having been wrong: [2]

Eventually I said, ‘Well, this was asked for by the marketing division. It’s a multi-button mouse. It’s been approved through Apple’s process channels, and so we’ve been working on it.”

Jobs stared at him.

“I’m Marketing,” he said. “It’s a marketing team of one. And we’re not doing that product.” With that, he turned and stalked off.

1: https://512pixels.net/2012/11/mouse/

2: https://www.macrumors.com/2014/03/11/steve-jobs-displeasure-...


Per George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"


Haha! Touché sir, but I would note he said “remember” not “snark in response with” ;)


<tries to decide which is worse, privacy violations or having all app icons on the phone desktop somewhere>


I may not be up to date on Apple's stance but last I read it, I thought their privacy policy basically said "we record whatever we want, and use it how we want" (maybe with a "but we won't sell it" clause)?

I feel there's some very careful wording in the OP which blurs the lines between "we care about protecting your privacy from everyone, including us" and "we care about protecting your privacy from everyone, except us". I don't have time right now to do another deep dive through their legal documents but this is the kind of thing large data-driven companies do to keep their customers feeling good while they go about collecting data as always.


The lines aren't blurred at all. In fact, they even explicitly say that the data they do collect is anonymous and used to find patterns in usage etc. not to sell or do other nefarious things with.


> we record whatever we want, and use it how we want

Where are you getting this? They explicitly list what they do and do not collect, and the purpose of it.


So far Apple is not in the ad business, they are in the hardware business.


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