Apple’s Latest Announcements: Mixed Reality Excitement and Underwhelming Privacy Updates
With the recent announcements from Apple, there is a lot to be excited about for the future. The Augmented Reality headset, other than being expensive, is definitely starting a new dive into the world of “digital data right in front of us”. Mixed-Reality. It’s an exciting time to be alive. I hypothesized that it was going to be more than AR, and it is. It’s AR AND VR. Truly “Mixed Reality”. The cost is likely going to hinder adoption, but I, unfortunately, think I will buy a set - if for no other reason than working from my Sprinter Van will give me a larger screen to work from, and watching a movie on the beach will be easier.
They also announced their latest privacy innovations. I am underwhelmed. For the consumer, these announcements appear good - and they are to an extent - but they are also not much more than the same things they have been doing for the past few years. There are a few exceptions to this last sentence. They added a “lockdown” mode… which gives us the ability to lock down all of our devices in the event of a cyberattack. Now, when they have a bug in their software, we can still protect ourselves. Finally! This is also a great feature, even if I jest a bit. I actually wish Microsoft and Google would implement this further… although it’s not yet easily addressed how to actually clean the devices after an attack. Hopefully, none of us need to find out.
Let’s break down some of their other “privacy” features.
- They added Safari private browsing mode. Really just another “finally” feature. This is just Apple’s answer to incognito mode in Chrome. Useful, but it is really just a ‘catch-up’ feature to all the other browsers. And most people I know don’t use incognito mode (at least not very often), but rather like/prefer to be able to login to a site, and when restarting their browser, still be logged in.
- Apple also is implementing privacy manifests in SDKs. Yet another ‘finally’ feature. Google is much further along in this category, but I’m glad to see Apple is working to be more transparent. It is yet to be seen how this will affect anything, at least in the short term, but it’s definitely a good thing for transparency and forcing app developers to actually understand what’s going on… and let's be honest - it is helping remove the liability to Apple, and transition the ownership of data collection to the user. We’re all still going to give consent (We want that free app to play that game) but at least there is now a more transparent requirement for consent. Apple has been slowly working in this direction for years, so I’m glad to see it.
- Photo’s privacy permissions. We’ve always been able to allow an app access to our photo library (or prevent it)... now we can allow it access to only a few photos. This seems good, but I take so many pictures, there is not likely many times I’m going to really use this.
- Link Tracking Protection in messages, mail (and private browsing). Basically, they are working to remove trackers in messages (thank goodness, that always annoyed me), remove trackers in email (this is going to have an impact on email spam, so I guess that’s a good thing too) and in private browsing (why did this even have to be mentioned for this… Was private browsing not really private browsing?? Reminds me to see if link tracking is removed in Chrome etc.. if not, kudos to apple on this one).
- Check-In. This is an interesting feature. It's essentially a “let someone know when you’ve arrived somewhere” and I will probably use it, but I have concerns whether it will be able to be used by people unintentionally to be “monitored”. However, having that capability will probably be super useful for parents and the like - so I support the concept and am glad it’s working in the right direction.
Now to the big question I am hearing from customers about these announcements with respect to El Toro and what we do in the AdTech space…
“How does all of this affect our ad campaigns?”
The short answer, we do not think it will. At all. Ok - technically it might, a little, just not on any statistically relevant level. Here’s why.
- “Safari Private Browsing”
Private browsing limits cookie tracking and tracking URLs. We use neither, so it has no effect on the way we do things, that’s what our many, many patents are about. El Toro doesn’t use any cookies or tracking URLs.
- “App Privacy Improvements”
These are really just tools that Apple is implementing with developers to provide more accurate Privacy Nutrition Labels. It doesn’t change anything, although it will make it better for the consumers who read all the TOSs they click.
- “Link Tracking Protections”
For the sites that do this outdated (or incorrect or malicious) way of tracking, this is a good technology to add into the ecosystem. Just like Safari Private Browsing, it doesn’t affect how we do what we do.
Essentially, there were NO App-Tracking-Transparency-like privacy bombshells dropped at the normal Apple flashy keynote/conference this year, but Apple is very good at making their privacy announcements sound like ‘everyone else is doing it wrong, and we’re going to protect our customers because we are Apple’. But the reality of it is, Apple released some great features (and cool new tech), but it doesn’t affect El Toro and what we do.
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