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At its all-online Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, Apple announced a number of privacy and security-related features for its upcoming versions of iOS and macOS. Let’s take a look at what it has to offer:
Decouple Security Patches from Feature Updates:
According to previously rumored reports, users can choose between two different software update versions through the Settings app. The latest version of iOS 15 is available for users who prefer to update to all the latest features and receive the most comprehensive security updates, and iOS 14 users will continue to receive security updates until they are ready to move to iOS 15.
Built-in Two-factor Authenticator:
Among the new features of iOS and macOS are two-factor authentication codes for online accounts saved to iCloud Keychain (Settings > Passwords), which eliminates the need to download additional apps such as Google Authenticator.
The Private Relay as part of Apple iCloud+ is akin to a VPN in that it encrypts browsing data on Safari to make it appear that the data is coming from anonymous sources.
Mail Privacy Protection:
With its new Mail Privacy Protection feature, Apple is combating the invisible tracking pixels embedded in emails. With tracking pixels, marketers can figure out if an email has been opened. They typically look like single-pixel images. Opened emails with invisible pixels connect to the sender’s server and send back sensitive data, such as IP addresses, device locations, and email clients used.
Improved Intelligent Tracking Prevention:
In addition to tracking fingerprints, Apple is now hiding the user’s IP address from trackers to curtail the ability for trackers to use the IP address as a unique identifier to connect their activities across websites and create a profile of the individual.
App Privacy Report:
The new Privacy dashboard, part of Settings, lets users see how often apps get access to sensitive data such as locations, photos, cameras, microphones, and contacts during the last week.
On-Device Speech Processing:
Siri can now handle offline requests and fully handle audio requests as well, implementing “on device personalization” to tailor content according to the device’s usage patterns. As Apple notes, unwanted audio recording is a major privacy concern for voice assistants.
Microphone indicator in macOS:
Beginning with macOS Monterey, users can also access their Mac’s microphone information from the Control Center. Every time an app has access to the microphone, an orange recording indicator appears, mirroring similar changes introduced by Apple in iOS 14.