Apple WWDC 2019: Privacy and Security Edition

WWDC Logo

Apple announced a plethora of new features during WWDC 2019. Not only did we get the new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, but there were also a few privacy and security features as well.

Tighter Privacy around Locations

Apple WWDC 2019 slide around tighter Privacy around Locations

Apple devices will now have the ability to share location to apps only once instead of all the time. Background tracking alerts will also be accessible to the user so that they know when an app is trying to access information in the background. Apps will also be barred from trying to scan your Wifi and Bluetooth signal to bypass GPS and get an approximate location.

Personally, I like Android Q’s option of allowing apps to access location only when the app is in use slightly more than Apple’s approach. Though ideally, both options should be available to the user on either system.

Sign in with Apple

Apple WWDC 2019 slide for sign in with Apple

Apple is introducing a new feature that is much like Google’s and Facebook’s sign in option with the addition of one major privacy feature, the ability to not share your email address with the app or site. By signing in with Apple, you will have the option of hiding your email. Apple will then generate a random email address for each app and site that forwards emails to your regular inbox. Face ID and Touch ID will be enabled to sign in to those accounts. You can also disable the created address anytime if you no longer want to hear from the app or site. This sign in option will be available on all Apple devices as well as the web.

Given how many sites and apps share your email to their affiliates, this feature should be standard on all sign in with Google and Facebook options.

HomeKit Secure Video

Apple WWDC 2019 slide on homekit secure video

Apple WWDC 2019 also brought HomeKit Secure Video. This feature analyzes security camera footage on local Apple devices. The argument here is traditionally videos are sent up to the cloud to be analyzed. This opens you to potential leaks to your privacy. By analyzing it locally, they can minimize the risk. Once the videos are analyzed, they will be encrypted an sent to Apple iCloud allowing users to easily access them. The videos will be stored for 10 days. After that Apple will remove them from iCloud. The storage for those videos will not count towards your storage limit on Apple iCloud.

Netatmo, Logitech and Eufy will be the first companies to support HomeKit Secure Video. Based on some statements CNET got from these companies, some existing devices may be getting this feature as well.

There is one major caveat to this new feature. It requires users to have tighter integration with the Apple ecosystem. In order for HomeKit Secure Video to work, you need some additional Apple devices since it relies on them to do the processing. This is a great way for Apple to bring users closer to the ecosystem.

HomeKit Router Firewall

Apple WWDC 2019 slide on HomeKit Router

Another neat feature that was introduced was HomeKit routers. HomeKit Routers automatically firewall off IoT devices from one another. If one device is compromised, the other devices on the network won’t be compromised as well. Linksys, Eero, and internet service providers Carter Spectrum have all signed up to provide HomeKit enabled routers.

Given the amount of IoT devices in our homes today, this is a welcomed addition. No word on whether or not existing routers may become HomeKit enabled, but hopefully that does come true as well.

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