Home Privacy Apple WWDC 2023: Low-Key Privacy News And A Mixed Reality Headset Debut

Apple WWDC 2023: Low-Key Privacy News And A Mixed Reality Headset Debut

Apple WWDC 2023

There were no AppTrackingTransparency-level privacy bombshells dropped during the flashy opening keynote at at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday.

But Apple does have a knack for making privacy-related product announcements that cast aspersions on the data practices of any company whose name isn’t “Apple,” and there were a handful of those.

For example, Apple is introducing an update to Safari that will completely block known trackers from loading on pages and also remove tracking from URLs when people are in “private browsing” mode. Apple will also lock private browsing windows when they’re not in use.

“Private browsing” is Safari’s answer to Google’s incognito mode in Chrome.

And Google just so happens to be facing a multibillion-dollar class action lawsuit alleging that it continues to track people, including the sites they visit, even when they’re in incognito mode.

SDK control

On the app side, Apple will start giving developers more information about the data practices of the software development kits they use in their apps with an eye on forestalling fingerprinting for good.

These files, called “privacy manifests,” outline and synopsize the privacy practices of any third-party code running in an app. In turn, developers will be able to include this information in their Privacy Nutrition Labels, which are the privacy disclosures they’re required to make for any app distributed in the App Store.

What’s interesting about this is that despite Apple’s tendency to position itself as the main protector of consumer privacy, Google is actually further along when it comes to curtailing unauthorized SDK data collection.

The SDK Runtime API within the Android Privacy Sandbox, which is now in beta, isolates the execution of an SDK’s code from the rest of the app. This effectively cuts off its ability to gather in-app data without consent.

Whereas the information in an Apple Privacy Nutrition Label is self-reported by the developer, Google’s SDK Runtime is a technology solution that automatically blocks an SDK’s bad behavior.


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Don’t say ‘metaverse’

But these privacy announcements won’t generate all that much coverage.

Apple Vision ProThat honor will go to Vision Pro, the long-rumored mixed reality app that was finally unveiled at the very end of WWDC. It was Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “one more thing.”

Vision Pro, which Apple plans to start selling in the fall, is a headset that will allow people to move between AR and VR experiences.

Apps and websites will float in front of people’s eyes, and they’ll be able to capture “spatial” photos and videos with a built-in 3D camera. Users can also fully immerse themselves in whatever entertainment they’re watching.

Basically, it’s a wearable spatial computer that melds the digital with the physical. Cook described it as “the first Apple product you look through and not at.”

The demos were impressive, and it’s not difficult to imagine the applications for gaming, entertainment, workplace collaboration and metaverse-related use cases. Although, of course, not a single Apple executive let the tainted word “metaverse” fall from their lips in talking about the new headset.

Speaking of, Meta is still trying to make the metaverse happen: The company released its Quest 3 headset last week.

If Big Tech has its way, we’ll all eventually be walking around with devices strapped to our heads, although Meta’s vision is a little more affordable than Apple’s – at least for now.

The Quest 3 will retail at $499.99 while Apple’s Vision Pro will cost $3,499. Checking your email in mixed reality will be an expensive proposition.

Updated on 6/7/23 to include the reference to “privacy manifests.”

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