New privacy and security features announced at Apple's WWDC 2020

Approximate location sharing, new app privacy disclosure prompts, new webcam and microphone indicator in the iOS status bar.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor

Today, at the 2020 edition of its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced new privacy and security features for iOS and macOS users.

Just like last year, this year's theme has been on improving user privacy, with a special focus on the predatory online advertising industry.

This year, Apple announced three main features that will make it much harder for online advertisers to track users.

New privacy disclosure prompts

The most important of the changes announced this year are the new app privacy disclosure prompts.

According to Apple, this new UI system will very visibly let users know what type of data each app collects about them. In addition, each app will now also have to disclose precisely each data type they use to track users across the web.


Apple says this new privacy disclosure display system will be added to all of the company's app stores, and not just for iOS apps. The disclosures will be clearly visible on each app's page so users will be able to take informed decisions and avoid data-hogging applications.


Permissions for cross-app tracking

Apple also said that apps that engage in cross-app tracking will now have to request a special permission from users going forward.


Approximate location

The OS maker has also announced the ability to dumb-down location sharing. Starting later this year, users will be able to share "approximate location" instead of precise coordinates.

This feature was added to allow users to continue using some geolocation-based apps, but not share their exact location at all times -- i.e., dating apps.


New ca,mera & microphone indicator

Moving away from the anti-user-tracking features, Apple has also added a new feature to counter apps that secretly access an iOS device's camera and microphone.

Taking its inspiration from laptops that show an LED when the webcam is in use, Apple says it plans to add a visual indicator in the iOS status bar that will light up when the phone's camera and microphone are in use.

The indicator, an orange dot near the network signal, will be used for both the camera and microphone, and will light up if an app users either one.


New Privacy button in Safari

But changes are also coming to Safari on Mac, which is scheduled to receive a big privacy update later this fall. The browser will get a new "Privacy" button on the toolbar. Akin to the anti-tracking features already present in Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, this new button will show users information about all the tracker scripts loaded/blocked on the sites they're visiting.


Sign in with Apple update

Announced last year, the "Sign in with Apple" login system lets users sign into third-party applications with their Apple ID. One year later, Apple said the project is a resounding success and the system has now been used to create more than 200 million user accounts on third-party apps.

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