Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Apple’s Hardline Privacy Policy Limits Key Features

Dan Moren:

When Apple first announced the feature, it made a big deal about the fact that the processing of photos for faces was done locally, on the device itself, rather than transmitted to servers. It was an obvious jab against Google Photos, which had already rolled out a similar feature, but did its processing in the cloud.

Again, there’s a laudable element to this. People don’t like to feel that their personal and private photos are being pored over, even if “just” by a machine. But these local silos have, at least at the moment, made the feature less useful, because the analysis happens on each device that the new Photos is on. That means even if all the photos on your iPhone are scanned for faces, when you upgrade your Mac to Sierra, the Photos app there doesn’t benefit from the information on your phone—even if they’re all the same photos.

It sounds like to have things work the way you’d want, you would have to re-tag all your photos on each device. And, I guess, forget about doing anything with faces from the Web interface.

Rui Carmo:

So yes, all those neat, magic features like face detection and Moments will turn out to be pretty much useless in real life – if not for me, then surely for the millions of people about to run out of iCloud storage and realize they have no easy, practical way to safekeep their photos.

Greg Barbosa:

Apple clarified that the use of differential privacy to collect user data would be opt-in, meaning if a user didn’t want to give into the system they didn’t have to. What Apple never indicated was where this opt-in area would be and what would happen if you decided against it…


With iOS 10, opting in to having diagnostic and usage data sent automatically to app developers means that users are also automatically subjected to data collection using differential privacy. It seems that if a user wants to submit diagnostic data to developers, but not be subject to the collection of this new data, they’re out of luck.

Via Nick Heer:

Though this may seem paradoxical, I think the critical factor in the unfriendliness of the setup process is the number of pages and options presented. This could be made less intimidating by, for instance, storing as many options and settings as possible in iCloud, and allowing the user to confirm them on a single page during setup.

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[…] If you can’t practically transfer the Photos library, then it sounds like you would have to re-tag all the faces. […]

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