Apple Touts Privacy Features of New Operating Systems

Updates for iPhones, Siri and more at WWDC 2018

(They look like they could be especially useful on an Apple Watch, since they can achieve complex tasks without requiring you to poke around at your watch's tiny interface.) Their importance to the iOS platform will go beyond Siri itself; power users have begged Apple for more automation features within iOS for years, and that's exactly what shortcuts offer.

The photos app will become more dynamic, offering search suggestions such as "hiking" and categorising events by place and time, with a separate "For You" tab offering suggestions for edits or people you may want to share images.

The two technology giants have clashed over data in the past, with Apple chief executive Tim Cook calling Facebook's data use an "invasion of privacy", an idea Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg called "extremely glib".

In other announcements, there have been rumours of a new version of the company's iPhone SE being in development which could also be unveiled at the conference, as could a rumoured cheaper version of the HomePod smart speaker.

Features in the upcoming iOS 12 software will let you manage your screen time.

"Turns out "like" buttons and "comment" fields can be used to track you, so this year we are shutting that down", Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi told a standing-room crowd of some 6,000 developers at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in the heart of Silicon Valley. There's no judgement here, just insights, but you can set yourself limits for an app or category if you choose.

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Last month, Google announced a digital health tool to help users monitor their device use and change their behaviours as needed.

It said that Safari in iOS 12 and macOS Mojave would come with updated privacy protection, which would not only block intrusive cookies but also plug-ins such as Facebook's Like button that could be used to track internet users.

New augmented reality tools were announced, including a new AR measurement app called Measure, which is a digital ruler shown on the device's screen that can measure items seen through the camera. And Apple is serious about its AR efforts.

"Now, if you do want to interact with [a plugin] or one of these apps tries to access this information, you get a [pop-up notice] and you can decide to keep your information private", Federighi said. One of Apple's biggest advantages is its ecosystem of 2 million iOS apps, and the next version of Siri will tap into those apps in new ways that could rival Alexa's capabilities.

Apple's move is a continuation of Intelligent Tracking Prevention in Safari, which the company announced past year. It's also reminiscent of IFTTT, an app that connects various digital services with automated "recipes". With Downtime enabled, users can't receive notifications and won't be able to use any apps unless they designate them as Always Allowed, which overrides Downtime.

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