Info-tech

WWDC21: Apple takes Siri offline, introduces range of privacy features with new OS updates

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 08, 2021

Its also updating its Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature on its web browser Safari to help users hide their IP address

Apple has previewed a range of new privacy features across iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and watchOS 8 at the WWDC 2021.

The tech giant last year had introduced features such as App Tracking Transparency and Privacy Nutrition Labels on the App Store for privacy and security.

It has now introduced new privacy measures across devices with new OS updates.

Apple introduces new tools and technologies for developers

Apple is finally bringing Siri offline with on-device speech recognition. The audio of users’ requests will be processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default.

“This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is an unwanted audio recording,” Apple said.

Siri processing for multiple requests is being moved on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings, or controlling music.

It has introduced a new feature in the Mail app called Mail Privacy Protection that stops senders from using invisible pixels to collect information about the user.

“The new feature helps users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location,” Apple explained.

It is also updating its Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature on its web browser Safari to help users hide their IP address from trackers. This means they can’t utilise the user’s IP address as a unique identifier to connect their activity across websites and build a profile about them, Apple explained.

App privacy report

It is also introducing a new App Privacy Report feature. The report will let users see how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days.

Users can also find out with whom their data may be shared by seeing all the third-party domains an app is contacting.

iCloud+

iCloud+ will bring new premium features to iCloud, including iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, and expanded HomeKit Secure Video support, at no additional cost.

Private Relay is a new internet privacy service that’s built into iCloud. The service ensures that when browsing with Safari, all traffic leaving a user’s device is encrypted. All the user’s requests are then sent through two separate internet relays.

“The first assigns the user an anonymous IP address that maps to their region but not their actual location. The second decrypts the web address they want to visit and forwards them to their destination,” it explained.

The Hide My Email feature will let users share unique, random email addresses that forward to their personal inbox anytime they wish to keep their personal email address private. The feature expands on the capabilities of Sign in with Apple and is built directly into Safari, iCloud settings, and Mail. It will also enable users to create and delete as many addresses as needed at any time. This will be introduced in mail as part of a software update to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and iCloud.com.

iCloud+ also expands built-in support for HomeKit Secure Video. With this, users can connect more cameras in the Home app with end-to-end encrypted storage for home security video footage that will not count against their storage capacity. HomeKit Secure Video also ensures that activity detected by users’ security cameras is analysed and encrypted by their Apple devices at home before being securely stored in iCloud, Apple said.

Published on June 08, 2021

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