Not a fan of Apple, but they seem to be serious about privacy showing other companies how it is done.
Microsoft could have really established itself as an alternative to Google on the same front, but they utterly failed by mirroring the worst aspects of the disastrous landscape we see on mobile devices. I hope their telemetry generates billions too, since that is probably in the range of their missed opportunities for both desktop and mobile devices.
Some still pretend that users want personalized ads and want to be tracked. Yes, there are some that really do. Glad we get options for the other ones.
You have to remember most of their money comes from selling devices and subscriptions, meaning they had a chance to take a stance against Android’s largest problem with no impact on their home turf, so they’ve wisely picked an achievable narrative.
Needless to say I’m grateful for it, but it’s by no means out of benevolence...
Watch this 10 year old clip of Steve Jobs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39iKLwlUqBo The position is genuine.
Of course that means I do not use things like Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram, Skype, Zoom, Google Maps etc. I have replacements for the useful ones (Zoom->Jitsi Meet, Whatsapp->XMPP + Telegram, Skype->Nextcloud Talk, Instagram->Pixelfed (experimental for now), GMaps->~OsmAnd + Nextcloud Maps etc) and don't need the rest.
I never see advertising on any of my devices.
Wouldn't want to minimize the work going into the core of the OS, I meant the critique to be directed against Android + gapps. I love Lineage, but you are dependent on other maintainers for your device or you have serious work ahead of you. It is quite simple to install for experienced users, but way too complicated for most people. Kudos to those that actually do maintain images for numerous devices. Granted, the problem are the hardware manufacturers here and lacking openness of viable drivers, also not the fault of Android developers.
Smartphone could have been really awesome tools. Instead we have toys that spy on you by default. I get that techies tend to make it hard for casual users to use modern devices, but I feel like I am scamming people when fixing their devices and not waste countless hours by making sure at least some privacy is protected.
I don't like closed ecosystems like Apple, but functions such as these actually do offer more worth. While I wouldn't buy Apple for myself, I started to recommend it to others for this reason.
It is meaningless if you install firewalls, if you compile android on your own, only to have to turn around and use proprietary, closed source libs to access proprotary, closed source radio firmwares.
Radio firmwares which often have full RAM access, parallel CPU control, GPS and full hardware access, and make intel's management engine, and closed source bioses look sane in comparison.
On my samsung phone, I often wonder what the radio firmware might be phoning home about.
And how that may be exploited down the road...
As far as I understand, in the name of efficiency and compactness, they are on the same silicon now.
Are they still a different CPU core or just run on the main processor block?
Wether or not all of the main memory is and even can be mapped I don’t know, I have no idea what CPU each baseband is running however in some designs it has direct access to the SoC MMU which means it could dump the entire memory over the wire to anyone.
The interfaces with the BB are also “virtual” this is done for various reasons including ease of integration with various operating systems so even if you on the OS level talk to it via the legacy serial COM interface using AT commands the hardware itself doesn’t actually have an isolated COM interface (that could be turned off) the SoC just emulates it.
Of SoC basebands have USB/Serial interfaces directly which could potentially be isolated and turned off when the BB isn’t in use, however the cost of that is usually very poor performance and limited capabilities at which point you might as well carry a portable cellular hotspot which you can physically turn off when you don’t need data or voice.
Also keep in mind that taking out the SIM card doesn’t prevent the baseband from talking to towers, it can still technically make calls the towers just usually don’t allow anyone to register without a subscriber ID which is stored on the SIM, and with eSIM you basically even lose the ability to control that.
Both devices are aimed at the hacker and enthusiast markets but once you're at the level of 'paranoia' which makes you suspect the radio baseband processor is being (ab)used in nefarious ways to track you this should not dissuade you from taking the leap. The more esoteric the hard- and software, the less chance there is for some cookie-cutter exploit to catch you.
But in truth, I'm not paranoid.. merely a realist. Regardless, I was thinking of buying a Librem, but can you even get one yet? It always says "6 months to delivery".
Alternatively these devices deliver on this front, i.e. the user gets to control whether the baseband is active or not. I'm not paranoid enough for the former scenario so I'll keep it at the latter and am considering to get a Pinephone for fun and, well, fun I guess - I already have plenty of devices running different iterations of AOSP, some of them running headless Linux without zygote (i.e. without the Android user space). A truly modular multi-vendor architecture with pluggable SoC, baseband, storage, audio, camera, sensor package, power supply and display would be the preferred solution - something like the original PC clone market with vendors competing on price and features - but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it. Not that long, anyway.
And with full control of the OS, of where kernel modules memory space is assigned, you'd only have to scan certain buffer regions of memory, to snarf contents of buffers, etc.
The problem is, I don't know, and can't. It's not open source. It is not under my control. I personally don't care about paying, but I do about seeing.
It's really a statement on our industry that avoiding spyware at this point basically means not using anything with a recognizable brand name. Apple's in a position to do this because they actually sell services to consumers; I'm curious if the rest of the industry will ever try anything that radical.
Remember when "doing well by doing good" was a phrase?
Android is open, and therefore exhibits the classic tension of liberty: free to do what you want, including harm yourself.
https://element.io/ Specifically works well as a discord replacement IMO. (Also has integration for stuff like jitsi)
Apple's been pushing this for more than 5 years now, slowly working it pushing it through their stack and quietly messaging about it for that entire time. They made it a company-wide priority, to the point where advertising companies and developers on their platform are complaining about it. They've been updating their APIs to block out this kind of crap for more than 5 years while gaining only small amounts of good-will around this.
So yeah... people take Apple's efforts here more seriously than Microsoft's half-effort.
 Pre-Satya Nadella. Seems like Nadella is quite a bit more focused than Ballmer, but still a bit hard to tell.
 Ok, maybe not too quietly, but they didn't make a big embarrassing advertising campaign either.
There are plenty of Microsoft videos with mostly upvotes. Try a video about the Xbox.
Microsoft tried hard, and kept trying long after it was clear to most of the market that they didn’t have traction. The owners of Windows phones were some of the most vocal champions at the time too. They legitimately made good but unpopular products at the time.
Wait, what was that about? Microsoft was incapable of building a Windows Phone email client that used OAUTH?
And bear in mind, OAuth to authorize mail access is weird. Generally speaking, mail clients use IMAP or POP3 and SMTP. One of the more popular open source Android mail clients, K-9 mail, still doesn't support it: https://github.com/k9mail/k-9/issues/655
But the biggest issue is that, like the "unknown sources" checkbox in Android, Google uses scare tactics to discourage non-Google-proprietary apps and protocols. Use Google apps on Google devices only, otherwise you'll have to authorize "less secure" things.
Microsoft had WinCE then Windows Mobile for quite a few years before the iPhone, then Apple released the iPhone, Windows Mobile started hemorrhaging market share... so Microsoft dropped WinMo like a bad habit, leaving developers and users out in the cold. STRIKE 1
Windows Phone 7 came out with piles of great press and hoopla, but notably, it didn't support older hardware so existing owners were left in the lurch. Developers were also screwed because WinPho7 wasn't compatible with older apps. It was a pretty interface with no software, no users, and no developers. It also had some serious shortcomings, ironically iPhone enterprise support was much better. WinPho didn't work well with Exchange server or Office. But that's OK because you didn't have long to be frustrated with WinPho 7 because 2 years later, they released Windows Phone 8 which dropped support for all old hardware. That's right, if you bought a brand new Windows Phone 1 year after launch, you couldn't run the next major release of the OS.
But the few people who managed to stick around after getting screwed over twice... boy did they love their Windows Phones.
After a certain point, there were just no developers, OEMs, or end users left around willing to be Charlie Brown to Microsoft's Lucy.
Also, for quite some time before they officially pulled the plug on mobile, core MS apps would come out for Android first.
Microsoft really despised their customers.
1. Apple users are the ones that cannot browse without adblocker. Safari is not as good as ublock-origin
2. Most Apple users use google maps.
> Not a fan of Apple, but they seem to be serious about privacy
If they are honest then they can remove the default search engine from Google to DDG or whatever. They get billions from Google for default search engine.
BTW, Apple need to release a good search/maps product before complaining.
3. Even the cheapest iPhone cannot be afforded by > 80 % world.
They do not care about >80 % world popln? They too need smartphones.
2. I don't use Google Maps. People can choose to use Google Maps, sure. So?
2b. I use DDG as my search engine. A default is just a default. Are you suggesting people use Google's Android, where the default is... somehow... not Google?
3. The cheapest brand-new iPhone is $399 from Apple in the US. That's full-price directly from the manufacturer. It is super-easy to pick up second-hand phones for much less than that. I see them for $100 very frequently. People use iPhones in nearly every country of the world, so it seems at least some people can afford them.
Note that your complaints include both that people ignore the default mapping application to use Google's, and that the default search engine is Google's. Seems silly to argue both for and against defaults.
The stats I've seen don't back this up. Maybe in some countries? Certainly not "Most" overall, and Google doesn't even have a third of iOS users in the US.
> Apple need to release a good search/maps product before complaining.
Duck Duck Go does just fine 99% of the time. Apple Maps likewise in most regions at this point. Google Search has gotten worse over the years as they've chased revenue while its competitors (DDG primarily) have gotten better. Likewise, Apple Maps have improved at a much faster pace over the past few years and closed the gap. Where Apple Maps used to lag quite a bit, they are now extremely close in functionality. A lot of people prefer the Apple Maps interface.
> If they are honest then they can remove the default search engine from Google to DDG or whatever.
Ads on platforms that deliver their ads embedded and from their first party domains (think google, facebook, reddit, youtube, instagram, linkedin, amazon, etc.) can not be blocked this way.
The iPhone 5s from September 2013 has been receiving regular security updates, the latest being iOS 12.4.8 on Wednesday.
It was the first 64-bit phone, and first iPhone (first phone?) with a Secure Enclave.
They can be had for <$100 in good condition.
Why dont you try to use it for a week with all your existing apps?
If it works as good - why would anyone buy newer?
You should try using it before telling people it doesn’t work.
Most people don't need the latest and greatest.
I really don't understand the fawning over Apple Inc. when it comes to their claims of supporting privacy, I trust them no more nor less than I trust other similar companies. I know I can keep my devices ad-free because I am the one who decides what gets to run and what does not, which software gets network access and which does not, what goes through the firewall and what not. I also know what software gets access to which OS features and what does not. Can this veil of security be circumvented by a serious opponent? Sure, there are likely to be bugs in the software and holes in the veil, no more or less than there are such bugs and holes in other systems. I deem the chance of a serious opponent singling out me and my devices as slim so for now I assume I can use my devices without being mined by the ad-tech industry.
I don't get ads on any of them.
Doing network security on-device is antipattern. Doing it at the network layer is easier and more portable. Not only do I block ads on my iPhone, I even run an IDS/IPS on all of the traffic, no exploits or jailbreak required.
Although, if you still prefer to block-ads on device, those solutions also exist for iOS.
Of course I run content blockers on my devices, this is not 'antipattern' at all. I also run them on the local network into which I, when needed (e.g. when using public wifi) connect through a VPN (used to be OpenVPN, now using Wireguard).
While Apple is slowly opening up the content blocking possibilities I have been doing this for about 9 years now, including egress blocking (using a whitelist, only those programs explicitly allowed are able to transmit data). Android being built on top of the Linux kernel made it possible to use most of the existing tools (iptables etc) more or less right from the start - which for me was with Android "Donut" (1.6) on an HTC Prophet (which was sold with Windows Mobile).
You can live without mercedes but not without smartphone. Paying for services; employer; calling people; if you swap 3 jobs then you are informed by your boss through WhatsApp or fb (at least in parts of 3rd world - I went through that in the last years).
Of course, there is no obligation for anyone to care about others - let alone mega corporation. Agree to your point.
What about removing Google search from iPhone to demonstrate honesty about privacy?
1. People cannot live without smartphones. I wonder how the past 10,000 were: how people made phone calls 100 years without smartphones, how they paid with card or cash, how to live without Facebook or WhatsApp. It must be terrible to be so entitled.
2. When people need smartphones, they should afford iPhones. Why a $100 Huawei is not enough?
3. When people have needs, someone is obligated to satisfy it. Oh, that sex maniac across the street ...
2. It's plenty enough. Phones have been plenty fast for years. The issue is finding a vendor that will support your software for long stretches of time which right now that is community Android distributions and Apple.
3. This is a bad-faith argument and you know it.
> Be kind. Don't be snarky.
Calling someone is not even on the priority list of a smartphone. But I can't access easily half of services (including banks) without an internet-connected device. Which is almost invariably a smartphone.
Bullet point 2: older versions of iPhones can be had for that money
I would like to actually see number on that. I personally use Apple Maps almost exclusively and don't look back. It does everything I need.
Apple Maps had a very shaky start, but its just fine compared to google maps (with the added benefit of not being a privacy nightmare)
nobody needs a smartphone. It's a gadget.
Much has been written on telephony in the developing world.
We're not in 1998 anymore where people phone you.
I'd say that's nowadays true for richer parts of the world as well.
The iPhone 4S, which still works with WhatsApp, debuted in 2011. They're cheap and reliable.
They seem to be one of the few large tech companies that aligns themselves with users rights to privacy.
Apple isn’t perfect. But they build very good privacy and security into their products. And they structure their UI and defaults in such a way that the average user benefits with no effort or specialized knowledge.
- While "10x less", iPhone still sends your private information (such as location) to Apple on a regular basis.
- Apple encrypts iCloud backups with a key they control, not end-to-end. This means that Apple can decrypt and inspect your phone and computer backups.
- According to the article, iOS developers can use their "new privacy-focused ad framework" to "allow anonymously retrieving data without getting a hold of the user or specific information". I don't fully understand that sentence but it sounds a lot like Apple trying to compete directly with Goog + FB in the advertising industry.
- Hardware made in China.
The story earned two sarcastic Pwnie Awards from the security industry last year, "Most Epic Fail" and "Most Overhyped Bug".
> - While "10x less", iPhone still sends your private information (such as location) to Apple on a regular basis.
Apple documents cases where private information is used, even if it is never sent off device. macOS and iOS users would be familiar with the interstitial privacy screens that show up the first time you use a feature.
iOS has always shown an icon in the status bar when the location information is accessed and provides a log of recent accesses. Recent versions have been more aggressive of reminding you when location data is being shared.
The most common reason location data is sent to Apple is for navigation purposes; if you opt into Location Services, Apple uses your device location for traffic aggregation. You can turn this off at any time.
> new privacy-focused ad framework
App developers incorporate ad frameworks to monetize their apps. An advertiser pays for an ad, and the ad framework displays it in the app. If the user taps on an ad, the framework communicates this back to its servers to make sure the app developer gets credit.
Most ad frameworks try to slurp up as much information as possible about the user in order to tailor more ads to them. Apple's new SKAdNetwork API does not send user information back to the network, only the app identifier that is needed for paying the app developer.
Certainly, but we don't need that one story, as we have plenty others...
- Apple doesn't let you secure your OWN device. Apple does not give you permission to run a firewall or any other app to do your own security.
- Apple doesn't allow you to see what your phone is doing. You cannot see what apps are running, when they are running or what data is being sent where.
- Apple encumbers your data. It doesn't provide an alternative to icloud. Why not a personal icloud, self-hosted on macos. Why not even a time-machine backup of your phone? Apple could make it easy, but instead they try to upsell you on more icloud storage.
Apple does allow security products on the Mac, and I have analyzed popular ones such as SecureMac's MacScan 2, and others that were on the Mac App Store's bestseller list, and there are tons of scams.
Users hear that it's good advice to install antivirus but don't know how to evaluate them. It is to Apple's discredit (and publishers like MacWorld that gave glowing reviews to MacScan) that these flourish on the Mac, but thankfully iOS users have not been duped to the same extent.
I don't know if it's really true that you're not allowed to run firewalls and such on iOS. They provide content blocking and VPN APIs. See the ability for Wireguard to introduce a completely new VPN protocol simply by installing an app. There is a lot of engineering effort that goes into supporting that.
> You cannot see what apps are running.
The model for when apps are executing is more complicated on iOS. I don't think it's as useful to think about an app's lifecycle as you do on a traditional desktop OS. Security that relies on you "catching" an app executing (if such monitoring is not always-on) is not good security.
> Why not even a time-machine backup of your phone?
You can easily back up an iPhone (encrypted, even) to a Mac or PC. This has existed longer than iCloud Backup. Apple does not release tools for inspecting an opaque backup blob, though there are some reverse engineered ones.
the flaw there is that it is opt-out not opt-in, and you can only block web activity, not apps.
Yes, the model is more complicated, but it abstracts away important ways apps can run even if you don't realize it, such as notifcations, "voip".
> > Why not even a time-machine backup of your phone?
> You can easily back up an iPhone (encrypted, even) to a Mac or PC.
Kind of. You don't back up apps or app private data. In other words, restoring your phone is at the mercy of apple and the app folks. Will you get the same app? Will you get your audiobooks? no, you will have to download them again.
2) Apple doesn't have computer backups. But agreed that it isn't great that backups are not encrypted with my key.
3) It means Apple will provide information to advertisers about users but not in way that identifies them. Look into Differential Privacy. And I don't think you understand advertising if you think Apple can ever compete with the micro-targeting capabilities of Facebook/Google's advertising platforms.
You've been able to back up iOS devices to a Mac or PC since the first iPhone came out, longer than iCloud has been around. Those backups are encrypted with your own key that Apple does not have access to.
And as iCloud is a global service they really have to cater for the lowest common denominator.
Sometimes they do, and I agree that they're much better than a lot of big tech companies.
Still, their insistence on tying almost everything to iCloud and then not encrypting iCloud properly is a major black mark against them, which severely reduces the usefulness of their devices and associated services if you value privacy and security.
Worst case, you generate a suitably robust key that is used for authentication and encryption, and you provide a means to export it and back it up however you want without sending it to any third party. You can still use all the snazzy secure enclaves and facial recognition and so on to protect a copy of that key that is held on each of your personal devices to enable easy but reasonably secure access, but the underlying technology is tried and tested, it does not have the lock-in problem, and it does not require data in iCloud to be accessible to anyone but the keyholder.
Also note that this needn't necessarily be mandatory. If users are OK with trusting Apple, they could still use the current approach. But if you're going to claim to be a strong supporter of privacy and security, you should really have at least the option for proper encryption of everything for those people and businesses that want it.
I think the secure enclave is the winning technology - whilst not everyone has to have a smartphone in the brave new digital world,everyone will have to have at least one secure enclave (HSM probably tied to biometrics)
___ have your ____, and as long as they have those ____, they can be compelled to ____ it under lawful government order.
On the other hand, the iPad is a very capable device for content creation, but I couldn't find a reliable way to sync files that doesn't leave them readable to Apple or another party. That'd probably be OK if I could use an iPad as my only computer, but I can't (or won't) today.
This is one of the key points. You can plug an iPhone into almost any modern PC, Apple or otherwise, and download the photos and videos. But you can't do the same for other types of data without using one or more of an Apple computer, specialist software or iCloud. The middle option, which is the only one not entirely controlled by Apple itself, has a long history of attempts that proved not to work entirely reliably or last for long. And as you say, for an iPad, where perhaps more users want to do substantial creative work, the same issues apply.
I understand that Apple's current business model is heavily tied to locking customers into its ecosystem, but that does become a significant problem for people who just want a nice phone but also respect for their privacy, and I do think Apple should be called out for this just as I think it's fair to praise them for being much better on broader privacy issues than most of their competitors.
Many third party apps that have a sync feature only work with iCloud, so a lot of people are forced to use it.
It's worth noting that nothing in iOS or iCloud prevents apps from encrypting data using a separate user key and then storing in iCloud. (Essentially, using iCloud only as a reliable substrate for syncing files it cannot read.)
That popular apps do not do this is likely due to lack of demand as much as anything. I am sure there are some content creation apps that do provide this functionality, if one is willing to search hard enough.
I agree it should be but that doesn’t seem like a huge deal especially considering the alternative platform (android) doesn’t even have a comprehensive backup solution (only individual apps via gdrive etc).
I respectfully disagree. Encouraging people to upload data that will probably be very personal in some cases, such as photos, videos or messages they store on their phone, without proper safeguards is at best negligent and/or abusive depending on your point of view. The fact that the other major mobile platform is even worse doesn't make the former situation any better.
1. cannibalize their main source of revenue and implement similar feature on Android and thus becoming a weaker competitor.
2. don't follow apple and let apple eat more of the smartphone market of people who worry about their privacy.
Apple doesn't make money from Ads, so it's strange that they waited this long to do this.
That’s the understatement of the year! Today I just found out that iOS will not show you the size of the videos for example. And there is no easy way to get it.
Obviously you have a bigger problem when it comes to larger sites like NY Times, but why not just let me say "hey, show me tech products because I like tech" to personalize, rather than trying to infer what I want and get it wrong? I'd be more than happy to tell every ad network ever what I actually care about, but right now all of the optimization is focused on guessing what I care about instead.
I like this sort of "personalization" podcasts do in their ads: with human judgment where the content creators exercise editorial control, not some black box chum box any rando can dump ads into.
At the time I was shopping for a Pebble smartwatch and kept checking the site if it's on sale, because Pebble had a tendency to do short-time discounts without actually announcing them. After a few times, almost every Google ad was for "Pebble Smartwatch". It not only wasn't useful, it was annoying.
Instagram has an interesting model. Maybe because of the visual medium that it works well for me. I'll purposely do searches for a thing I'm interested in and click on related posts. After a couple days I'll start getting ads for companies selling things I'm looking for. Recently, new bedding & sheets. I'd imagine it's the same model Facebook uses but i rarely login there.
You'd take a survey about your interests and/or things you're in the market for then you would get a monthly email with a variety of targeted ads. Over a year ago I wrote down in my "ideas" notebook "privacy respecting opt-in email advertisements" but then when I looked at it again later on I thought "I don't think anyone would sign up for this" haha.
I prefer contextual ads, ie. related to what I'm currently looking at, not what my ad profile thinks my personality is based on something unrelated I did on another device last week.
That would be my preference for browsing the web, or looking at results of a search. But what about the ads that rely on doom-scrolling? The ones that are inserted every two posts on a Facebook feed would be hard to make contextual, for example.
Both of these are better that tracking your activity all over the web and using that to target you.
After about ten years or so of Kindle ownership, I recall clicking the ad and buying the book exactly once. Yup, a sci-fi book, and it was pretty damned good as I recall. The title, you ask? Hell if I know, Amazon never showed me another book from that author ever again. And I wish they would, because I can't remember which one in my "stacks" of sci-fi is the one I want.
> So long story short, personalized ads are just as useless to me as un-personalized ads, only creepier, and I'd prefer not to be stalked.
As much as you think the ads are doing a poor job, they're likely doing a better job in aggregate than alternatives.
Retargeting ads deliver higher value than prospecting ads so that's likely why you get so many more of those.
In the case of retargeting ads, you can run tests to figure it out. When I was doing more on the marketing side, I used to find a non-profit and then show ads for the non-profit to my retargeting audiences. That way we could test to see what kind of value our retargeting ads had vs. a completely irrelevant retargeted ad.
For the most part, the relevant retargeted ad outperformed irrelevant by enough magnitude to make the retargeting campaign profitable.
Call me old school (I’m a 70s baby, 80s child). I enjoyed the content-linked advertising in magazines. I actually read them and used them to learn the market around my interest.
Robot selected ads which follow me around claiming to know what I like based on interactions I had do all the following:
- creep me out because I know I’m being followed
- annoy Me by removing any semblance of my own agency in the event: at least with content-linked ads I have chosen to consume that content and I feel like I want to in that zone
- annoy me by getting me wrong
- annoy me by assuming I’m just like everyone else that ticked the same boxes/set the same flags
- annoy me by presenting mostly mainstream stuff rather than small-scale/artisan/bespoke/local stuff that would be much more interesting. I appreciate that this one ought to work better if the advertising host/network knew where I was browsing from (which is a step towards tracking)
The tracking and bidding has completely destroyed what was actually good about advertising for the consumer.
No. If I have to be surrounded by messages trying to manipulate me (which is what ads are, by the way), then I don't want them to be personalized for extra effectiveness (at manipulating me).
I don't really understand how some people seem to treat ads as some kind of neutral, helpful information source. It's almost like saying "I don't mind propaganda, since it's such an efficient way to find out what to think."
Even though I'm aware of it, I still fall for YouTube recommendations. My brain still lights up when I see an ad for a product I recognize. I'm still impressed by the sponsored Amazon search results.
Personalization only makes this worse. Now, that product that I made the difficult decision to pass on will taunt and distract me even in situations when I should be focusing on different things.
Major firms that switched from outsourced “personalized” ads (ad networks w/ retargeting) to selling ads against content, found their ad revenue go up, and their advertisers found conversions go up.
Turns out that 50 years of advertising industry had gotten pretty good at tailoring ad messaging and placement to content for moving product — much stronger than endlessly showing people ads for a product they just searched and already purchased.
An example, I visit Amazon and my recommendations for the "buy it again" section are all very expensive networking equipment that I literally just ordered from Amazon to build out a new home network. There aren't any recommendations for consumables, like the box of exam gloves, hair gel, or the windshield wiper fluid tablets that I purchased in the last 6 months.
Any advertisement is manipulation. Think about it: the purpose of an ad is to influence your decisions primarily for the benefit the self-interest of the party that paid for the ad (otherwise they wouldn't have paid for it). Any benefit you derive from your decision is secondary, and doesn't typically factor into the decision to take out the ad. That's pretty clearly manipulation.
However, there are definitely differences in how manipulative an ad can be. An ad for a plumber in the yellow pages is not very manipulative, but a targeted political ad meant to make you angry that's been interjected into your Facebook feed is very manipulative.
But that's not what modern advertising is. Let's look at a real car ad. Here's the first ad for a discrete vehicle that wasn't a Lambo that I found on youtube searching for "car ad": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk5QL_kKN_g.
It's message is roughly "if you drive a Land Rover you'll kinda be like this rugged, skillful, and cool adventurer guy who's driving a Land Rover." It doesn't mention price once and barely touches on any features. That's pretty par for the course for modern car ads: they aren't selling the product, but an emotional connection to a lifestyle.
Here's another one, it's the first one I found searching for "car ad" limited to this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYkLjcQP26M. It doesn't mention price or and features. It's just pure association of positive emotions with the product.
The Land Rover looks rugged, but "a sleek fusion of zen...and spacecraft" is more my style. The Nissan Ariya is also a force, which is a big plus. Nissan it is, then!
> What do you consider an advertisement? Is a business sign an advertisement?
Product catalogs, menus, and business signs aren't advertisements (though sometimes they contain some marketing or are manipulative, but that's less common with them than with ads). They can be simple informational documents, and are cheap compared to an ad campaign. Ads are typically paid placements in some kind of media, meant to influence a consumer to benefit the advertiser (usually by making a purchase, eventually).
> I consider a lunch special saving me the time of thumbing through a menu...
It would also save time if they just ordered for you. You'd save the time, they'd get to sell you their item with the highest profit margin. Win-win?
Here's an example of a current automotive special, these are what dominate Google and FB ads (at least with the 150 automotive clients we work with) and there's typically some copy with it soliciting the price and some incentives. If someone's seen an ad there's dynamic ads which can be tailored to that audience. https://pictures.dealer.com/h/huntingtonbeachchryslerjeepcll...
> It would also save time if they just ordered for you. You'd save the time, they'd get to sell you their item with the highest profit margin. Win-win?
For example, the local gourmet Taco shop (cafe to the restaurant) normally has tacos for about $3.99 and on Tuesday they're $1.99, advertised on special with a drink, I know the tacos are good and that's a great deal. Their highest margin item is the auga fresca (which they sweeten with agave), they charge about $4.50 for that. Thanks for taking the time to let me see things from another perspective.
Marketers have already done this without targeted advertising for decades and gotten extremely good at it. Now they have the equivalent of nuclear weapons (individual profiles and data) and you still think it's going to turn out ok for the people?
In my experience, it's the opposite. Non-personalized ads show me a broad range of items that I might possibly be interested in. The same way that newspaper, television, and magazine ads do. While personalized ads show me the same ads for the same products that I've either already purchased, or no am no longer interested in for weeks or months after I've moved on to other things.
frankly it is inefficient use of money in this world
I find this argument... odd. Why, as a consumer, which is how you've framed the overall argument, would I care even a little about the efficiency use of money in this world? I think to refine your point: Why would I give fark one about whether an advertiser's money is spent efficiently, and why is that even my concern at all?
Why can't there be a way for me to tell the ad-world what I'm in the market for
There is. For example, if you're into gardening, you read gardening magazines and garden-related advertisers advertise in those magazines. Easy peasy.
This is old tech that the dead tree folks figured out centuries ago. What's changed is that digital advertising isn't about actual advertising. It's about getting rich quick and easy without doing any heavy lifting that the legacy ad companies did.
Inherently ads are made to manipulate your behavior. I'd choose being manipulated the least possible.
On the second point, my spouse and I, each of us on our own devices, one of us can search for something, browse a website, and then the other one will start to see the ads for such in their Instagram feed (and for the record, it is usually me seeing the things my spouse is looking for). It is completely insidious and it needs to stop!
> it is inefficient use of money in this world
That's the advertiser's problem, not mine, and their choice to spend money just as it's mine to buy what they're selling. Advertising is already largely a guessing game of how to appeal to people and where to do it, and the only way to make it easier /today/ is by violating our privacy. They could spend the money however they want and choose to advertise.
Personalized ads created by siphoning data off everything I do not so much.
Put it this way, to use an example, what kind of relationship would you prefer, someone who knows all the things about you because they asked or someone that comes up to you and is like 'yeah, I know you like this that and the other because i've been following you everywhere you go, listening to your phone calls and installed a RAT on your computer?
If the data being gathered is purely to give me better recommendations for better targeted products then sure. If that level of personalization is restricted to just me as a user where I and only I can select the ad selection and that personalization remains on my machine.
The Facebook CA scandal demonstrates to me how frankly these companies are straight untrustworthy. I do not want political/security/insurance/job agencies getting anywhere near any of this data.
It is a solution to monetization. It is not the only solution. Lack of economic development has been because of the addictive nature of fascist behavior.
Non-personalized vs personalized is not the question for me; companies might still collect the same data from my "experience" habits.
If they are going to do that I want more profit from it than a custom news page.
Like I want money from the company leveraging my identity for the company's bottom line. I want some of that money if you are going to get a simulacra of me in a fucking database.
And until we get there we are stuck with a few rich lawless men keeping me for themselves.
If you were talking about some sort of imagined strong AI personalization I might prefer that assuming ad free wasn’t an option, but this absurd, deep from within the uncanny valley personalization is worse than generic advertising.
The only place I am exposed to generic ads are when watching sporting events at a bar or at someone’s house. Everywhere else I get ads blocked or get “targeted” ads that mildly (at best) offend me that that is what the algorithm thinks I’d be interested in buying. I prefer the generic ads.
Why would I want even 1% of the content I'm consuming to be polluted with irrelevant garbage? That's a huge amount of time and mental effort filtering out stuff like toothpaste ads because I googled directions to my dentist's office.
Nope. Ad blockers on EVERYTHING and custom CSS for sites that whine about ad blockers or display a sea of whitespace to inflate page view times.
It's been fascinating to get a glimpse of the bigger universe of ad content for women, doctors, lawyers, the infirmed... instead of just the $150 hoodies and baldness pills I used to see constantly.
Advertising is the new smoking. We do not fully understand the damage it does to society and our planet, but it is huge.
Personally, the only time I had mildly relevant ads was back when I had an account on Instagram. It served ads for local businesses that actually kinda matched my interests. The rest is just "oh, you searched for info on a long-dead general? Must be interested in WW2 replica medals, buy fifty!"
If I'm reading an article about astronomy, give me a link to telescopes to buy. Don't show me the washer/dryer that I've been looking for in another context in my life.
I would even take content-customized ads with slight tweaks based on my personal profile, but still relevant to the content at hand. For example, if I'm in eastern Nebraska, give me the telescope ad from the example above. But if I'm in Philadelphia, maybe show me a link to the observatory at the Franklin Institute.
I would think ads are meant to drive you into the market for a product and service, and other marketing tools are made to get you to pick a specific offering.
For manufacturers? Sure. But what about storefronts? Having the best price won't matter if no one knows about it.
My thinking (probably wrong) is, if I am in the market for (to use the example someone else mentioned) a pebble smartwatch then I am probably going to look for the best price myself. No reason for storefronts to spend money putting their ads with their price up on unrelated sites and apps, if I'm going to search for a good price for free. It would probably be better just to buy and ad on the search term "pebble smartwatch" and advertise the price.
In other words, allow advertisers to put all their personalized / targeted ads into a common ecosystem, but allow me to dip into that when I'm looking for some specific purchase.
That would mean that advertisers wouldn't have tracking on almost every website and inside almost every smartphone app, gathering information, taking up screen real estate, and consuming valuable bandwidth and user attention.
I may be an outlier since I generally try and turn this stuff off everywhere. I also pay for a lot of ad-free content that I like (Stratechery, Stay Tuned with Preet, Persuasion, etc.).
I think the incentives from ads are a corrupting influence in building stuff that users want. I think the 'personalization is good for users' argument is often just a rationalization.
Because there's no money in that. What's the value in selling you something that you've already decided you want to buy? Advertisers are trying to get into your head and manipulate your perception to make you open your wallet where you otherwise wouldn't have. And when you do decide to purchase a product, that it's the advertiser's brand which you think of first.
The entire podcast until recently has been supported by no more targeting than guessing about the demographics.
No. I simply do not ever look at ads. I've never, in 30 years of browsing the web, intentionally clicked on an ad.
Furthermore, I don't want a company keeping a dossier on me. The exchange of seeing ads for something I might want isn't worth the assault on my privacy, if it worked. And it doesn't work, so no thank you.
If I decide on my own to buy something, it won't be hard to find. I don't need to tell advertisers what I'm in the market for. I can just tell Google or Amazon what I want and I'll find it immediately, even though I'm blocking the ads.
Ads aren't needed for monetization of anything I care about.
Ads are only needed for businesses to scale quickly without having to actually provide a service worth paying for, and that's something we would be better off without.
For example websites could have variables like mental state (like knowing of you're depressed) and show you ads that could "work better" on you. I think this is unacceptable.
A device on which to read articles about wars in the middle east
An donation to Red Cross/Doctors without Borders/relevant charity
Books on the history of the Middle East...
A Netflix documentary about the Middle East, offering a free Netflix trial if you want to watch it...
FB would show me an ad for the perfect obscure Kickstarter project that I was happy to back. Win-win.
I also remember a funny experience with Google Maps 2 years ago. I had my home and work addresses on profile. They're both in the same city and close enough that it's possible to walk between the two. I was looking at the closest way to go from the office to another place not far away, on foot. The top suggestions google thought I would have a use for while looking around my destinations were hotels. When I live maybe an hour away.
So I figure if Google's recommendations are so useless even though I gave them precise information, how exactly is some random adtech company going to figure something useful for me when all they supposedly have is infered information?
If the value per ad decreases, services will need to display more til the user generates enough value to support the costs they incur.
If TV was able to cater ads to individual viewers then ad breaks would be a lot shorter.
Or they could sell the same amount of ads as they do now for higher prices. Which one do you think the company would pick?
The length of ad breaks is determined by what 'price' the customer is willing to pay in terms of their time.
I am not sure what your point is.
> If the value per ad decreases, services will need to display more til the user generates enough value to support the costs they incur.
What they need to do is to find a way to pay their bills. If ads allow them to do that then it's great (maybe non-personalized work well enough? Or contextual targeting, as others have suggested in this thread). If users cannot stand the increasing amount of ads then they will stop using their service. Or maybe these companies can adopt a mixed model where people can pay to not see the super intrusive ads, and everyone else gets the ads?
Personalized ads is one of the 'features' of ATSC 3.0 whenever that finally rolls out: https://www.techhive.com/article/3268635/next-gen-tv-to-ushe...
The ones that were personalized where insulting. Like Facebook showing me ads for healing stones when I have my religion marked as atheists.
Facebook needs a lot less data and to force their adbuyers to actually target their ads. Probably though they don't because then the ad buyers will find out how little they actually gain from the ads.
Still will be relevant to what you're doing and where you're spending your digital time but will lack the cross-site personalization and hyper-detailed targeting layers currently available to advertisers.
If I'm reading reviews about a certain product category, it's a fair bet I might be in the market for such a product. So the site could show me relevant ads.
If I'm reading a site devoted to a particular topic or activity, the publisher might reasonably guess that I could be in the market for related products, and offer relevant ads.
None of this requires any privacy-invasive tracking.
If I'm reading a general news site, the site shouldn't have any more idea what I'm "in the market for" than the publisher of a print newspaper I might buy.
If I'm browsing used-car listings, the site shouldn't have any idea what genre of novels I like to read, what my grocery cart usually contains, where I go to work out, or how many pets I have. Why does anyone think it's OK for a company to surreptitiously gather that sort of personal information about everyone?
Vogue subscribers are probably in the market for new designer clothes. People who watch Cesar Milan are probably in the market for pet supplies. Someone driving down a highway is probably in the market for gas and a snack. Someone who searches for “affordable laptop” is probably in the market to buy a new computer.
You don’t need to track someone’s every move to serve them relevant ads.
That's a big if.
This isn't a new, unexpected thing for sell or demand side ad-tech platforms, they've seen the death of IDFA coming for a few years. The reality is that this will likely stop more 'above board' players (a good thing) but the gray area and outright malicious, scummy ad and data companies will still attempt to generate unique identifiers through things like native fingerprinting. I think Apple will also stop them incerementally, but this sadly isn't an outright victory.
I don't understand it myself, but people DO opt-in to personalised ads in pretty decent numbers, it's anecdata, but I've seen data from very large control trials (testing for exactly this scenario) where ~50% of users opt-in. The devil is in the detail with these things: what will the copy be? will alternatives be presented? how will users be able to link 'value' to what they're being asked for?
This is due to (1) not having enough data to build good algorithms and (2) advertising campaigns being set up poorly (its not only technically challenging but also expensive). This issue can actually be fixed and likely will in the future.
>I'm also very skeptical that tracking based advertising actually works better for publishes either.
The majority of publishers make more money from personalized ads. NYT and premium publishers don't necessarily since ads on NYT are valuable by itself, but ads on my blog are worthless by themselves. Add some user data, and ads on my blog are worth much more.
Fundamentally advertising serves the needs of advertisers and not the needs of the viewer. No amount of additional data will make advertising less frustrating because ultimately neither the publisher, nor the advertiser cares if my experience is more or less frustrating.
More data won't result in less frustrating advertising, it will result in more effective advertising for the advertiser and more revenue flowing to the big ad companies as a result.
> The majority of publishers make more money from personalized ads. NYT and premium publishers don't necessarily since ads on NYT are valuable by itself, but ads on my blog are worthless by themselves. Add some user data, and ads on my blog are worth much more.
This is neither proven, nor entirely true. Advertising existed and was profitable before targeted advertising was created. Publishers made more money before Google/ Facebook took over and dominated the industry.
I've seen very few blogs which are worth a damn which have big advertising from Google/ Facebook on them. Mostly because good bloggers don't want to debase their otherwise good content.
Back to basics it is, treat me well as a customer, deliver as promised and use ads responsibly (aka no more hyper targetting)
I guess most people would agree that advertisement in general can fulfill an important function, if done responsibly – but not like that. These tracking excesses really must die.
And iOS isn't for everyone. Yes it's great for protecting privacy but it's also extremely restrictive for the users. The fact that they don't even allow real third-party browsers is baffling in this day and age. I also can't use my Yubikey in OpenPGP mode which I really need for my password manager and SSH access. I know it supports U2F now but that's not enough (and was way too late as well).
It'll never happen though. They'll always find a way to track us.
These are issues that only developers and the superest of superusers care about. So it's not surprising that HN commenters think they are a big deal.
That's what I mean with "iOS is not for everyone". They try to cater only to the average user. Or at least the more affluent subset of those. I'm not everyone but I'm certainly part of 'everyone' :)
In fact this is really what's pushing me away from Mac too as they're heading in the same direction. When I moved to Mac in 2004 they were a great POSIX capable system with a great UI (unlike the mess Linux was at that time) and custom software. Now more and more power features are replaced by on/off sliders that don't do what I need.
Windows and Android are heading in the opposite direction, adding more power features. I really like the power that things like DeX and Termux provide (though the latter isn't necessarily a feature, it's definitely something that wouldn't work on iOS). I can work a whole day on my phone, multitasking and everything. You can't do that with an iPhone.
Still, both with Windows and Android you give up considerable privacy. And that's not necessarily needed. Things like scoped storage should have happened years ago.
The problem is, right now we have only 2 choices. Living in the open world but getting all our information sucked dry by advertisers. Or live in Apple's protected little garden but not be allowed to leave it. And pay much more for hardware specs.
Neither are very appealing.
I don't want to turn this into an Android vs iOS debate, but want to highlight that one of the main complaints against getting an iPhone (cost) no longer really applies - it could even be considered a strongsuit. I agree that the walled garden can be annoying, but I've rarely found myself longing for Android customisation, and have very much noticed how some apps work much better on my iPhone. This is completely down to preference though.
I also care deeply about privacy, but even with 0 consideration for it, I think I still would've switched - I am super happy seeing Apple pushing it this hard.
(I recently went back to iOS after 2 phones and 5 years on Android)
Basically you're buying a 4-year-old phone with a modern SoC in it :) I don't think that is worth the price they are asking. I paid the same (440 euro) for my S8 3 years ago (it was out a bit over a year), and it already had a beautiful AMOLED screen, high screen to body ratio, and in particular DeX which I can't really do without anymore. And it's still fast enough now. I upgraded to that from my iPhone 6 which was becoming way too slow at that point (note: iOS 12 did fix this somewhat but by that time I had already had enough of it). Overall, the S8 aged better for me than the iPhone 6 did.
Compared to what you can get from Apple now vs the Android vendors, Apple is only ahead in terms of SoC when you're looking in the same price bracket. But that's not the only spec that matters.
> But I don't like them taking that choice away from me. ... Or live in Apple's protected little garden but not be allowed to leave it. And pay much more for hardware specs.
I pay Apple a premium to make these decisions for me. They make my life easy to live.
In this particular case, I'm aligned with their simplification, until their browser is the majority player. That's when it would be worth my effort to make an educated choice.
When/if Apple opens iOS up to third party browser engines, I fully expect them to also add highly visible warnings of which apps are guzzling power. It's unfortunate that it takes something like that to get Google/Mozilla to take power efficiency seriously, though.
Somewhat related (even though this is focused on Apps). I have noticed an uptick in websites that don't support safari, likely due to how they handle cookies. I hope this does not become super common (but I can't imagine many sites wanting to loose out on the iOS market)
This sends an all-zeros IDFA to all APIs that request it^1.
iOS 14 begins the new prompts, lets you toggle this on a per-app basis, and, by being in front of users is just about guaranteed to dramatically increase the number of users who are opted-in.
I would run the risk of loosing a lot of important documents in my iCloud Drive.
Maybe I will install it on my work iPhone but that is barely used right now.
So no addons anytime soon.
Only thing I really really miss from FF Mobile is the pull to refresh. I so wish they'd add that, because every time I open a tab with a news site that was already opened it shows stale information, and I have to open the hamburger menu to do a refresh. 2 actions instead of one.
An option to have sites auto refresh when switching to the tab after xx minutes would be great too. Right now it's just too inconvenient.