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Craig Federighi on Apple’s New Privacy Initiatives

Michael Grothaus at Fast Company interviewed Craig Federighi on a subject that was prominent in yesterday’s WWDC keynote: privacy. The interview begins with Federighi sharing how Apple considers the extended long-term impact of its decisions in this area:

“We hope to build a lot of great products that bring customers a lot of joy every year,” he says. “But in the fullness of time, in the scope of hundreds of years from now, I think the place where I hope people can look back and talk about the places where Apple made a huge contribution to humanity is in helping people see the way of taking advantage of this great technology without the false tradeoff of giving up their privacy to do it.”

Grothaus highlights several new privacy features throughout his piece, all of which will arrive this fall in Apple’s new batch of software releases. One especially interesting feature is called Approximate Location:

With this option, an app will never know the precise spot you’re at. Instead, it will learn the general area, which is often enough to provide the same level of service without intruding on your privacy to the same degree. To achieve the “approximate location” feature, Apple divided the entire planet into regions roughly 10 square miles in size. Each region has its own name and boundaries, and the area of the region is not based on a radius from the user–it’s fixed. That means that an app can’t extrapolate your precise location from approximate location data, because you aren’t necessarily at the center point of that approximate location boundary.

In a packed, fast-moving keynote, it was noteworthy that Apple dedicated an entire segment of the presentation to privacy. The company ships new privacy features annually, and considering its stated focus on future centuries, it shows no signs of letting up any time soon.


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