why doesn’t Apple take this privacy thing all the way?


Apple has made some good steps against the insane erosion of privacy, but why don’t they take it all the way? Yes, Google pays Apple to be the default search engine in Safari, but Apple doesn’t need Google’s money at all. And I’m sure Microsoft would pay them handsomely to have Bing be the default search in Safari (not that Apple needs Microsoft’s money either).

With Safari having about 4% share on desktop, about 27% on smartphones and about 50% on tablets, Apple cracking down on this crazy privacy invading free-for-all could really change things in a significant way. I’m sure there’s more privacy improvements they could make for iOS apps as well, this stuff doesn’t need to be reserved for Safari.

Comments (19)

19 responses to “why doesn’t Apple take this privacy thing all the way?”

  1. maethorechannen

    but why don’t they take it all the way?

    Because it's more profitable for them not to? They benefit from knowing more about their users just as much as Google, Facebook and Microsoft do.

    I’m sure Microsoft would pay them handsomely to have Bing be the default search in Safari

    I'm not. It's not a very nuMicrosoft thing to do.

  2. lvthunder

    They don't do that because they know their users want to use Google Search.

  3. Paul Thurrott

    I think you're commingling privacy with utility. Putting Google Search in Safari isn't about privacy, it's about giving customers what they want. And Apple's customers want Google Search, not Bing or anything else.

    • Bdsrev

      In reply to paul-thurrott:

      Ya but Paul, Apple doesn't care about that. They ripped out Google Maps and replaced it with Apple Maps, which wasn't even close to being a production ready application at the time. And they didn't even wait for Google to release a Google Maps app for the iPhone! Users had to wait months as Google scrambled to make a Google Maps app for the iPhone. I'm pretty sure you wrote about this...

      • provision l-3

        In reply to Bdsrev:

        While you rare correct that Apple Maps was a complete train wreck when it came out the two situations are fairly different. Apple replaced a third party service with their own as part of a longer term services strategy. If you were arguing that Apple replace google with their own search engine that would be more analogous. To that end, I do think the intent is for Siri to eventually usurp the standard web based search engine so you may get your wish. (And because someone is going to see that as me say Siri is great, good or even mediocre that is not what I am doing. I'm simply speculating on Apple's long term plans not the quality of said plans).

        Also, as far as Google scrambling? At a minimum they had three months noticed that they were being dropped as the data source for the default iOS mapping app as the announcement came three months prior to the release of iOS 6. My guess is Apple likely gave them even more of a heads up on that or it coincided with a contractual agreement ending. I'm guessing Google simply took the six months to make sure they got it right rather than scrambling.

        • Bdsrev

          In reply to provision l-3:

          I don't actually know what happened for sure but I read that Apple didn't give Google adequate time, probably on purpose, because Google wanted to have the Google Maps app in the store on day 1, they didn't want to lose months of valuable data. If my memory serves me correct, the Google Maps app came out in December? Google was not happy about the timing, I do know that part

          • provision l-3

            In reply to Bdsrev:

            iOS 6 was announced in June and shipped in September. Pretty much the standard that they do now. So at a minimum they had three months. I believe you are correct on the December part but app development isn't my wheel house so I have no clue if three months is enough time or if it was indeed a six month scramble.

            • Bdsrev

              In reply to provision l-3:

              I just checked, the Google Maps app did indeed come out in December, so Google had no Maps app on the iPhone from September to December... Google was angry about that, and rightfully so. Apple didn't give them enough time to get a half decent Maps app in the store (I remember using it on my brothers iPhone and it was quite glitchy even a month or two after it was released)

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to Bdsrev:

        I wouldn’t exactly say that El Goog “scrambled.” If they wanted to get it out in a week, they easily could have.

  4. longhorn

    If you want privacy only open source software from top to bottom down to the firmware/hardware level can "guarantee" that in any meaningful way. Otherwise you just trust Apple or whatever company when they say they care about privacy. Hardware has been an enigma to open source for a long time, but maybe the RISC-V architecture can fulfill this promise. Privacy on the Internet is a different game, but because of the open source nature of Internet/HTML there are many tools available for anyone seeking more privacy online.

    At the end of the day collecting data is good business and most people don't care. They still buy that iPhone or fancy device they think will make their life better. For example an always-on smart speaker, because why not? I'm not saying it's wrong, it's just that privacy is not high on most people's list of desired features. We are still in a phase where people want to be amazed and they look for convenience rather than worry about privacy. Corporations are going to exploit this mindset until there is more demand for privacy.

  5. provision l-3

    I wish Apple would change the default engine to Duck Duck Go personally but given that it is easy to change the default I'm not supper up in arms about it. I did see that Apple is going to start requiring all apps to have their privacy policy posted in the App Store and in the app itself which I think is a step in the right direction. Users should be able to easily find out what they are signing up for when they considering downloading an app.

  6. dcdevito

    Privacy on Apple devices is an over-hyped misnomer. Need proof? Look at iOS 12 features such as the new Shortcuts app/functionality. If privacy was taken so seriously how in the world would Siri be able to pull off adding a featue such as suggesting you order a starbucks coffee you've ordered in the past? Let's break this down...

    The reason Siri/iOS knows this isn't because Apple has your precious data, no no. It relies on the Starbucks app (among all other 3rd party apps) for this data. So while Apple screams PRIVACY PRIVACY PRIVACY they're full of it, your same data is being collected through other apps - so Apple can claim they're privacy first while still bringing this level of functionality to its users to match Google. But doing it in a much sneakier way.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to dcdevito:

      The Starbucks of the world already collect this information. Siri shortcuts just gives people the end user a benefit of using the information that Starbucks is already collecting.

    • provision l-3

      In reply to dcdevito:

      I don't think you understand how the Siri Shortcuts app works. A user has to create the shortcut and in the process they approve data sharing from an app to Siri. The data isn't collected without out user consent and they specifically have to request that it is. Perhaps we disagree but I don't see this as a privacy issue given the user willing gives up the information and given the user as to go out of their way to make it happen is certainly isn't sneaky.

      • dcdevito

        In reply to provision l-3:

        Yes, I know users need to consent to it. That wasn't my point. My point was that while Apple isn't collecting it doesn't make them the good guys. I never said it was a privacy "issue", I'm merely calling out Apple's pro-privacy stance as if they're 100x more private than Android. Truth be told, they're not.

  7. christian.hvid

    I've always felt that personal information should stay on the endpoint device, locked inside a TPM-supported vault and only synced between devices using end-to-end encryption. Online services would be able to request information from the vault (with the user's permission) but only on a transactional basis - they wouldn't be able to copy the information to their own servers, and the permission could be revoked at the user's discretion. The Facebooks and the Googles of the world would still be able to provide personalized services, but in a far less intrusive way. And users would be in physical control of their data, obviating much of the need for GDPR and similar regulation.

    And yes, I also believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy.