As users pour more and more personal information into its products, Apple continues to bolster its credentials as a company that cares about privacy. The iPhone maker has updated its privacy site, adding details about how data is collected for new iOS 9 features like the News app. The site also incorporates a letter from CEO Tim Cook, which spells out the company's commitment to keeping its users safe. The letter was first published by Apple in September last year, weeks after hundreds of nude and semi-nude photos of female celebrities were stolen from iCloud accounts.
The site reiterates Apple's mantra that it makes money by selling products, not personal data — a party-line that has been used to attack rivals like Facebook and Google. "We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers," wrote Cook last year. "We don’t ‘monetize’ the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you."
Apple's description of Maps privacy is a thinly veiled criticism of Google. "Other companies try to build a profile about you using a complete history of everywhere you’ve been, usually because they’re targeting you for advertisers. Since our business doesn’t depend on advertising, we have no interest in doing this — and we couldn’t even if we wanted to."
New features in iOS 9 collect new data from Apple users
These sorts of assurances are only becoming more important as digital services soak up more of our lives. Apple's revamped privacy website addresses new features in iOS 9 like the News app, which watches what users read in order to recommend stories and sell targeted ads. Apple reminds users, though, that they can reset this anonymous profile of their reading habits at any time, or turn off targeted ads altogether. There are similar explanations for other features including Apple Pay and Apple Music, and the company also explains its use of encryption, and details how it responds to requests for information from law enforcement.
Like similar privacy initiatives from Google and Facebook, the revamped site uses simple language to spell out the data Apple records and what it does with it. However, while this approach seems refreshingly straightforward, it does have its own pitfalls, with simple language sometimes masking over-generalized terms and conditions. So why not give the 60-page white paper on security in iOS 9 a read.