Apple Ups Focus On Privacy & On-Device AI With Apple Card, Arcade & News+

Apple’s focus on privacy is not news to its users. The company has always maintained a strict policy of user privacy to the point where it has now become a mainstay of their products. Indeed, this is the same company that took out a billboard outside the CES venue in 2019 that poked fun at the data privacy practices undertaken by software giants such as Google and Facebook.

Now, with their latest bevy of products launched on Monday in a high-profile event, they have carried forward their philosophy of user privacy and taken it to the next level. Users can now rely on Apple’s privacy standards across their every-day activities.

Join us as we take a deeper look into the privacy features of the Apple Card, Apple News+ and Apple Arcade. The fundamental philosophy of these products include not only protecting user privacy from third-parties and Apple but also using on-device Machine Learning to provide a higher quality user experience while maintaining privacy.

Apple Card

Perhaps the biggest and most researched privacy comes in the package of the Apple Card. The card is a digital credit card that is integrated with Apple Pay. Reportedly, customers can sign up immediately upon launch with their iPhones.

The privacy technology created for the Apple Card builds on top of Apple Pay system. While Apple Pay is used by encrypting and decrypting card details in the Cloud with a device account number as reference, the Apple Card has no details as such. This means that there is no 16-digit card number, no CVV, and no magnetic stripe details that can result in card fraud. This itself adds a large amount of security to the system.

When an Apple Card is created, a unique card number is created on the iPhone and securely stored in the portion of memory dedicated to storing FaceID and TouchID data. This is known as the Secure Enclave and ensures additional security for purchases.

Every purchase is authenticated with Face ID or Touch ID, along with a unique one-time dynamic code. Moreover, they have baked in special functionalities that mean that Apple cannot see where a customer shopped, how much they spent or what they bought.

It also comes with a variety of convenience features such as tracking the location of where a payment was made, and the name of the store as opposed to merchant IDs. This is done through Machine Learning, which also takes care of classifying spends into categories. The card also has no fees and lower interest rates than traditional credit cards. All of these are conducted by using ‘on-device intelligence’, which is Apple’s term for ML conducted using the onboard Neural Engine.

Apple News+

Apple News+ also boasts of multiple security features to protect users from online tracking and predatory advertising practices. While it is primarily a service to ensure that users can get a lot of premium content from magazines at an affordable rate, the commitment of Apple to privacy shines through.

For instance, Apple does not allow advertisers to track content read in Apple News+. This is to ensure that the experience is more premium for users, as is Apple’s philosophy, while also prioritising the privacy of the users. No cookies and no tracking mean a much more meaningful recommendation system for users, which is another area Apple has improved on.

In the ‘Today’ Tab of Apple News+, users will be presented with single article recommendations and issues of magazines that are thought to be suitable for them. Instead of the recommendations being processed on data in the cloud like other companies, it is a mixture of curation by editors and a privacy-focused recommendation method.

Using DNNs that utilise the Neural Engine onboard the newer iPhones, Apple makes recommendations without data of what the user reads being sent to the cloud. Groups of articles are downloaded from servers, and the neural networks make recommendations based on what the users read in the app.

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade is a service that resembles a game pass, with developers tying up with Apple to create exclusive platforms that will launch across all Apple devices such as the iPhone, iPad, MacBook and iMac. New games will be released every month, and will no doubt take advantage of on-device intelligence as well.

Neural networks find a lot of applications within game design and can be used for tasks such as upscaling the resolution or generating levels randomly. Moreover, the Bionic chip present on modern Apple devices from the iPhone X and up has processing power that rivals certain desktop grade processors. This creates a good amount of computing power for developers to work around with.

Games published on the Apple Arcade do not have any ads, in-app purchase or trackers, bringing a never-seen-before amount of security to mobile games. Games are especially notorious to tracking user’s behaviours and forcing advertisements.

With Apple’s promise of privacy across every step of the mobile experience, other manufacturers have to come up with a way to beat them at yet another field. It is left to see how the market will react to this.

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