I’m still exhausted by the opening keynote for this years WWDC, Apples annual developer conference. In almost 2,5 hours, Apple introduced so many new products, features, and updates to almost every product they are offering:
- iOS 13 will come with dark mode and most notably a massive update to the Photos app.
- watchOS is getting its own App Store, paving the way for stand-alone Apple Watches that don’t rely on iPhones any more and could potentially open up to Android users to become truly mainstream.
- tvOS gains multi-user support, an iOS-like control center (yes!) and a redesigned home screen with full-screen teaser videos (meh!).
- iPadOS highlights Apple’s effort on building out the iPad to eventually replace your laptop. Desktop-class Safari, support for mouse and trackpad, the ability to use USB drives, new (and confusing) gestures and multi-tasking options, and much more will come to the iOS spin-off.
- MacOS Catalina will gain the ability to use an iPad as second monitor, including the ability to use touch and even the Apple Pencil as input.
- The death of iTunes.
- The birth of SwiftUI, that enables cross-platform development with many core features like DarkMode build in.
- The re-birth of MacPro puts emphasis on the Pro. It’s completely re-designed when compared to the previous ‘trash can’ MacPro and a modern take on the ‘cheese grater’. But with computational power that only absolute pro users need. And with a display, that is as stunning as expensive.
“tl;dr: The Mac Pro and display fill a large gap in Apple’s professional product line. Prices are reasonable for the professional user. If you want one at home, you are an idiot.” Michael Pusateri on Twitter
But once again, the underlaying theme of the opening keynote was around privacy and security.
And as noted in previous issues, Apple is not afraid to point fingers. This year’s WWDC was more direct than ever, though, with Craig Federighi (SVP Software Development) mentioning Google and Facebook several times.
Apple does not rely on advertising dollars so it’s easy for them to focus on privacy, and one could argue that privacy is Apple’s new luxury product
For a long time, you could also argue that this is all to the benefit of the user. And this definitely used to be the case. But with Apple’s latest announcement ‘Sign in with Apple’ comes mixed feelings.
(There were many smaller privacy-focused announcements like default cookie-blocking, but let’s focus on the big thing)
Sign in with Apple
Many of you have probably used the Sign in with Facebook or Google feature in the past. Instead of entering your data every time you want to sign up for a new service, you could just use your Facebook or Google account to do so. It’s easy and fast and again, offers users many benefits. But it comes at the cost of user’s privacy. The more services you use with the same e-mail address or login credentials, the easier it becomes for tracking companies (as well as Facebook & Google) to follow you through your digital life and gather information.
To prevent this behavior, Apple is starting to offer its own login feature with the promise that they will never look at your data nor could they because of on-device encryption. But it gets even better: Users can opt-in to hide their real e-mail address and instead use a randomly-created relay e-mail address like firstname.lastname@example.org. And they can do so for every service. Apple will forward you necessary emails e.g. to confirm your sign-up, leaving the service clueless about who their new user is. Awesome!
Unfortunately, there is a downside. And it comes back to the accusation of ‘privacy as a luxury product’ as well as Apple making use of its monopoly power.
To use ‘Sign in with Apple’ you need an Apple product. Although support for a web API is supposed to come, details are vague and Apple Pay shows how little success Apple has with developers actually using these APIs.
To support adoption, Apple even forces developers, who use third-party logins, to use ‘Sign in with Apple’ as well. And even put it on top of the other options.