Friday, March 29, 2024

The Journal App’s “Discoverable by Others” Setting

Joanna Stern:

When you go into Settings > Privacy & Security > Journaling Suggestions, you’ll see that Discoverable by Others is enabled by default—even if you never turned on suggestions. Under the setting it says, “Allow others to detect you are nearby to help prioritize their suggestions.”

Uh. Why is this on by default when the suggestions setting is off by default? Is the iPhone automatically reminding my nearby contacts that I am around? And encouraging them to journal about what we are doing together?


The phone can use Bluetooth to detect the number of devices nearby that are in your contacts. It doesn’t store which of these specific contacts were around but instead may use this as context to improve and prioritize journaling suggestions, the spokeswoman said.


Basically, Apple knows this new app isn’t likely to be used by the masses right away, so it turned on this service to give its earliest users a journaling boost.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

This is a fine feature, and I think it’s fine that it’s on by default. But the description of the feature in Settings is just atrocious. It sounds creepy as hell.

Magnus Ahltorp:

Also, it’s not clear from Joanna’s article what exactly has what information. Does your phone have information on who is there, just that it doesn’t present it to you? Or is it truly some advanced cryptographic trick where the phone can only deduce how many of a certain set of people are there?

But even if we could imagine a protocol that achieves that, what if your contact list contains one person? Then it’s not very private, is it?


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