However, it seemed suspicious to me that Apple would make it impossible, as the author claims, to type in the Safari address bar without sending queries to Apple. So, I fired up Charles proxy to confirm my suspicions.
When using Safari default settings, typing in the address bar resulted in a few requests to Apple and Google autocomplete APIs. Then, I turned off "Include search engine suggestions" and "Include Spotlight Suggestions" in Safari search preferences. (Safari -> Preferences -> Search)
As I initially believed, no requests were sent whatsoever when typing in the address bar after those settings were disabled. Can we put out our pitchforks yet, or am I missing something?
There are two "Spotlight Suggestions":
- "Spotlight Suggestions" in Safari
- "Spotlight Suggestions" in Spotlight
Both query the same servers, both use the same name, and both return the same information.
A reasonable person might believe that, having followed Apple's instructions for disabling "Spotlight Suggestions" (the Spotlight kind), they'd disabled "Spotlight Suggestions" (the Safari kind) -- especially if you didn't actually see any suggestions appear in Safari (I didn't!).
Mark Rowe, Safari developer at Apple: "That’s probably a fair complaint." https://twitter.com/bdash/status/524005838743035904
There needs to be a single checkbox: "Do not share my Spotlight data with Apple".
There's already a single checkbox for "Diagnostics & Usage Data", and that should be respected too. The network query posted here is actually a search metrics POST, not a live search query, and it's used as metrics for local and remote search performance.
p.s. It was also just pointed out to me that, having selected a specific search engine, a user would not be remiss in believing that their searches would be sent to the only the search engine they had selected.
You know that the iOS 8 mac randomization feature doesn't actually work right? From imore.com - http://www.imore.com/closer-look-ios-8s-mac-randomization
A privacy conscious implementation would ask the user on startup if they would like to include Maps results in their inline suggestions and if so do they agree to sending their queries to Apple.
Might be alarmism, I don't know. But I think it just demonstrates the ways in which users' expectations about privacy are mismatched with the products they use. For example, your average non-tech-savvy user would never realize that an important privacy setting is in a search setting marked "suggestions".
It's hard to say more without seeing the text of Apple's Privacy Documentation that is referred to at the top of the article.
Is this not clear enough?
Those instructions disable "Spotlight Results" only in Spotlight-as-in-desktop-Spotlight.
To be honest, I feel like Landon found something that confirmed what he already suspected, and ran with it, rather than taking a moment to look at what he had (which is wrong). That makes me wonder about his goals, since I've been watching his work play out over the last few days. Why is the sky falling, again?
OK, that's highly sarcastic, but I just went looking for these options and was gobsmacked to discover that no relevant options were present under Privacy.
Sending my search term to Apple which then simply does a back end aggregated search and returns the results does not invade my privacy. Unless of course you have some evidence that Apple is collecting those search terms.
With this Safari thing, it sounds like your queries are silently sent to Apple, in addition to Google or whoever your preferred search engine is. So, not only are they being sent somewhere without explicit consent, they are sent somewhere other than the place you explicitly consented to, in a way you won't see unless you dig into config dialogs/manuals and/or packet sniffers. Am I factually wrong on how this behavior works?
Am I being too flexible in ethical gymnastics to avoid condemning Google, while condemning Apple? It was hard to articulate the difference, so frankly maybe it's just that I like Google more. But I think it's fair to say that for me personally, Google Instant is more transparent and fair than how this Apple behavior sounds.
Also, to be honest, I haven't used Yosemite. I don't know if that invalidates my opinion. Maybe I should at least not form an opinion in this flame-fest of half-baked arguments from both sides.
The preferences aren't scattered through several dialogs. It's simply open Safari, goto Preferences, click on Search tab and uncheck the requisite Smart Search feature.
People have pointed out that this option is kind of hard to find, even if you're looking for it (under Search, not Privacy.) Also, if I chose the "Google" option, I might reasonably believe my searches were only being sent to Google, not Apple. If this was a Microsoft computer, I'm pretty sure we'd all be angry if they had a default-on option phoning home Google queries!
Is  downvoted because he is factually wrong about the two options, or because everyone is determined to prosecute him to fullest extent of the HN downmod, for originally being sensationalist/mistaken and/or for having certain views on privacy?
How the hell else would you expect it work? It's like saying you expect to drive your car forever and never need to refuel.
It would work perfectly fine if Apple only sent the search query to the search engine I have configured. Just like Chrome and Firefox do it.
Edit: Found it in Include Spotlight Suggestions in Safari options - that seems to stop the Maps results. It's a mess - Safari has an option that relates to Spotlight results which invisibly relates to Apple Maps results but there is no mention of Apple Maps in any of the Spotlight options. _And_ it is on by default - not enabled at first run after user consent.
Remember, the UI is intended for most of many millions of users, not the tiny number of people wound up about each and every nuance of a given UI action. Most users either want Spotlight to tell everything it can, or they just don't use it; few indeed want a detailed list of every service involved and a switch for disabling each one (never mind the symbiosis between many of those services).
Oh phew - there's a solution - I can as well stop using a Mac!
>Most users either want Spotlight to tell everything it can, or they just don't use it; few indeed want a detailed list of every service involved and a switch for disabling each one (never mind the symbiosis between many of those services).
I guess there is solid research around this? Good to know everyone wants everything or nothing!
Spotlight search suggestions are a major new advertised feature in OS X and iOS.
To disable Spotlight Search Suggestions in Safari, open the Safari preferences and de-select "Search > Include Spotlight Suggestions".
To disable Spotlight Search Suggestions in the system Spotlight search menu, open the System Preferences and de-select "Spotlight -> Spotlight Suggestions".
“Our business is not based on having information about you. You’re not our product ... I think everyone has to ask, how do companies make their money? Follow the money. And if they’re making money mainly by collecting gobs of personal data, I think you have a right to be worried.”
“We take a very different view of this than a lot of other companies have. Our view is, when we design a new service, we try not to collect data,”
“We’re not in that business. I’m offended by lots of it. And so, I think people have a right to privacy.”
Is there ANY evidence that Apple is collecting data. Because it seems to me that all that is happening is that Safari is contacting an Apple service which searches Wikipedia, news, articles etc. Pretty sure it's easy to disable by switching off Smart Search Field in Safari.
Have any of the commentors used the latest Safari? Safari does not passively collect data. It is doing much more. It has what can be called search actions.
Type in a Nissan dealer's name => Brings up with an Icon a clicky that would take you to the nearest Nissan dealer location on Maps.
Type in wiki X => Brings up with wiki page for X.
Pray tell how would they accomplish without processing the results?
I agree that they should have informed users before. But let us not assume something nefarious is happening.
I find it odd how quickly Apple defenders jump to "let's not assume they're evil" in these cases, when no speculation on motivation is presented.
I personally don't care about motivation. I'm not even sure that a large company like Apple can meaningfully have motivations the way that we as individual humans think of them. All that matters is what they do.
However, that doesn't mean it's nefarious. I don't doubt that Apple, if it can have motivations at all, implemented this stuff with the best of intentions. But as I said, I don't care about that, I just care about what they do.
Where did you get that?
Why do you label me as an Apple defender?
Tell me how would Apple provide this feature without sending data back?
Why even bring that up unless you think somebody might assume nefariousness?
Why do I label you as an Apple defender? Because... you're defending... Apple.... Is this a trick question?
How would Apple provide this feature without sending data? I don't see how that's a relevant question. You imply that it's OK for them to do this as long as it's necessary for the feature. I disagree. The feature doesn't have to be implemented. It doesn't have to be turned on by default if it is implemented. And if implemented and turned on by default, they could do a much better job of telling you about the implications and telling you how to turn it off.
can also be uttered before someone does X.
Are you saying that online community of Apple haters (I am not calling you a hater) is not prone to assumptions?
See also: NSA's definition of "collect." 
P.S. This is assuming the portrayal is accurate. People in the thread are saying it's not. Default-enabled stuff like this is kind of scummy IMO, though, either way.
So as you say Spotlight web searches have to contact some sort of search engine, but I don't know of a legitimate reason why Apple should need to know about them as well.
I don't find it surprising that they're collecting as much data as they can, it just seems odd to call out competitors who do similar things.
> Is there ANY evidence that Apple is collecting data.
> I'm not sure it's a contradiction either, more of an omission, he doesn't specifically address search data in that interview
> Doesn't seem like a data collection initiative. It seems more like a complementary search engine
> Do they do autocompletion suggestions like Chrome? That would seem like a good reason to collect this data.
> I actually personally don't mind sending my search data to Apple
It's just amazing. When Microsoft, Google or anyone else does it, it's EVIL and there's no other way to look at it, but when Apple does it, it's somehow perfectly OK, because, you know, they are the good guys.
As someone who would consider themselves to be a realistic 'Apple apologist' (I like Apple, as a company and their products, and tend to assume the positive for everything they do), I see a large negative bias against Apple on HN.
I would expect the one in System Preferences to disable suggestions in the system-wide search only, and the one in Safari to disable suggestions in Safari only.
Screenshots of the two options: http://imgur.com/a/TWDxy
You can bet they are going to build it though and it'll look nice.
With the right expertise on the team and some decent exposure to real users prior to the wide release, they may be able to deliver something that people enjoy using. The micro-features that delight users are something that Apple has traditionally done well, and are also the type of thing that go a long way in a product like a search engine.
Separately, Kevin McArthur (author of the Pro PHP book) is reporting this evening on Twitter that Spotlight is harvesting user locations after updating to Yosemite, apparently before the opt-out option is presented:
Google deletes the search history you see but everything is still stored on the servers.
Whether you think that's sufficient or not, at least I have the option. And the last octet in my IP address is automatically modified after 9 months and deleted after 18 months even if I don't do anything. If you can tell me how I can do the same thing with Apple's search log files, and what Apple's IP address retention policy for its search log files, I'd be much obliged...
Sending your searches to Apple is bad because... they're also committed to protected your privacy but they're Apple so it's a big conspiracy.
I don't feel that I'm particularly missing out by making this decision (although I am aware that many other vendors probably have similar ethical problems associated with them).
That's just childish. Not only can companies change but one product doesn't necessarily reflect everything a company has to offer. You should stop being such an ideologue and learn to use the best tool for the job. Which is sometimes an Apple product.
As for other Apple products, you can run Linux on a MacBook quite happily (Linus does, after all) and there are some nice Android ROMs which focus on freedom, such as Replicant.
Mozilla's "Safe browsing", for instance.
If you're going to go with something FF based, at least choose something with such things disabled by default. For instance, I run PM.
> Before blocking the site, Firefox will request a double-check to ensure that the reported site has not been removed from the list since your last update.
And, pretty much trivially, if the URL was added to the blacklist, they have the corresponding URL to the hash.
(Not to mention, even if they didn't, their core product is based around crawling webpages. I'd be highly surprised if they didn't have hashes of the URLs they visited.)
And, even beside that, URLs are relatively low-entropy. Especially with the path-splitting that safe-browsing does.
seems to also block some adverts when on. (probably because those adverts are also trackers)
Sounds logical enough to me.
I am sure you can directly search on google or duckduckgo to avoid that.
For instance IDEs often ask if they can submit anonymous datas to a server from the software.
Disable the Smart Search features in Safari and it won't send anything to Apple.
with a recommendation to block api.smoot.apple.com.
(And arguably seems like a worse behavior to me, as my Spotlight search terms are often for private info I'm trying to locate on my disk.)
About Spotlight Suggestions & Privacy
When you use Spotlight, your search queries, the Spotlight Suggestions you select, and related usage data will be sent to Apple. Search results found on your Mac will not be sent. If you have Location Services on your Mac turned on, when you make a search query to Spotlight the location of your Mac at that time will be sent to Apple. Searches for common words and phrases will be forwarded from Apple to Microsoft's Bing search engine. These searches are not stored by Microsoft. Location, search queries, and usage information sent to Apple will be used by Apple only to make Spotlight Suggestions more relevant and to improve other Apple products and services.
If you do not want your Spotlight search queries and Spotlight Suggestions usage data sent to Apple, you can turn off Spotlight Suggestions. Simply deselect the checkboxes for both Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches in the Search Results tab in the Spotlight preference pane found within System Preferences on your Mac. If you turn off Spotlight Suggestions and Bing Web Searches, Spotlight will search the contents of only your Mac.
You can turn off Location Services for Spotlight Suggestions in the Privacy pane of System Preferences on your Mac by clicking on “Details” next to System Services and then deselecting “Spotlight Suggestions”. If you turn off Location Services on your Mac, your precise location will not be sent to Apple. To deliver relevant search suggestions, Apple may use the IP address of your Internet connection to approximate your location by matching it to a geographic region.
The problem is that even after disabling it there, Spotlight still attempts to phone home. Here's a screenshot with "Spotlight Suggestions" and "Bing Web Searches" disabled in System Preferences with a Little Snitch window showing an attempted connection while searching: http://imgur.com/w09aNpz
I want my device to 'just work' like it did when I bought it, updates shouldn't feel like downgrades
See "Safari: A more intelligent way to search."
> even if you've disabled all use of Spotlight Suggestions and sharing of Usage and Diagnostics data
It's unclear which OP unchecked.
As noticed elsewhere in this HN thread (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8480173), unchecking the Safari Preferences box fixes the issue.
Let's hope they did _not_ do this on purpose.
that's what i meant when i said there was no way this was done on purpose - apple care far too much about their credibility to pull that sort of stunt.