A subtle change to system settings in Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 release, announced today at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, means it could become much more annoying to log into third-party apps using a social media account. The change, outlined in what appears to be the developer beta release notes by venture capitalist Sean Cook, says system-level integration with social networks is doing away: “Social accounts have been removed from Settings iOS 11. Third-party apps no longer have access to those signed-in accounts.” Axios has also confirmed the change.
Considering how many apps use either Facebook or Twitter as the backbone of their login system, this sounds like a hassle for users. For instance, buying concert tickets on mobile through a service like Ticketfly is made easy by logging in through Facebook. OpenTable, every mobile dating app, and even Facebook-owned WhatsApp are among the apps that automatically log you in using your Facebook credentials. For Twitter, it’s less pressing, because fewer apps rely on a Twitter account. Yet there are still services built off Twitter, such as the excellent Nuzzel curation tool.
Without system-level integration, iOS may fall back on the mobile web. Log into Facebook once in mobile Safari, and when you go to log in to a third-party app using a social network, it should be able to remember you. But that approach lacks the certainty, and ease of setup, that system-level integrations afforded.
There is the possibility Apple could replace its system-level social account feature with what some sort of password autofill feature. Ricky Mondello, a software engineer at Apple, tweeted about a session he’s hosting at WWDC on Wednesday. “I'm thrilled to introduce Password AutoFill for Apps,” Mondello wrote. “If your app has a login screen, I have information for you.” In the meantime,
An autofill feature similar to password management services like LastPass would make having to continuously input your login credentials a little more manageable. But it still doesn’t explain why Apple is doing this. The company has often touted its commitment to privacy as a paramount focus, one that differentiates Apple from the other big players in tech. But in this instance, it’s not clear what users are gaining, while it’s quite obvious that a distinct element of modern convenience is being lost.