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iOS 10 data gathering will be opt-in and very limited, Apple says

Apple raised some eyebrows last week when it announced plans to start gathering user data with iOS 10 using a new feature called Differential Privacy. Since then, the company’s offered up a few more details that should put your security concerns to rest.

Recode reports that data gathering will be totally opt-in, meaning Apple can’t start analyzing your behavior until you say it can. The company also says it’s limiting that data to four specific areas, at least to start, including the emoji you use (for emoji suggestions in iOS 10), your local dictionary, deep links and Lookup Hints in Notes.

Apple already does some data prediction in iOS 9 with its proactive suggestions, but that’s all done locally on your phone. iOS 10 is set to start analyzing your data and comparing it to other people to find general patterns. With Differential Privacy, the company says it can add mathematical noise to hide your private information while still recognizing those patterns.

Cupertino’s also set to upgrade its Photos app with image recognition software as part of iOS 10. The company says it won’t use any customer’s pictures to power that feature. Instead, it will rely on some other set of images to train the new software, though it hasn’t said where those will come from.

Data gathering is a big deal for Apple. The company’s always put a huge emphasis on protecting customer privacy above all else, but it clearly needs to bend its rule a little to stay competitive. Once iOS 10 arrives we’ll see how that plans works out, though if you’re uncomfortable with it you can always just decline to opt-in.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...