Engineers Say Apple’s Pursuit of Privacy Takes a Toll on Its Development Efforts

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 15 Apr 2022

User data analysis Unsplash

Apple’s relentless focus on privacy works in favor of users but takes its toll on other fronts. In a new report, Apple engineers explained how the privacy-centric processes hamstring product development.

In a new report from The Information, developers explain that they cannot offer the level of personalization they would like features to have because Apple doesn’t give them ready access to usage data collected from the masses. They add that some changes are completely out of bounds because of the privacy protection systems.

This limited access to user data reportedly limits the iPhone maker’s ability to offer highly personalized services. For instance, Apple TV+ is no match for Netflix’s content recommendation engine. According to an Apple staffer familiar with Apple TV+, the service lags because it chooses to uphold privacy and avoid collecting data about what customers watch. This simple choice implies Apple cannot reason why viewers move from one piece of content to another, essentially nipping the idea of a content recommendation engine in the bud.

The report adds that some ideas were shelved because they went against Apple’s concept of privacy and would be shot down by low-ranking “privacy czars.” One fine example is that although Apple analyzes Siri requests to improve it over time, your voice profile is not linked to your Apple ID.

In 2019, Apple reportedly deliberated over allowing customers to purchase apps and online services through Siri voice commands. The implementation would have resembled how you can place orders on Amazon using the Alexa voice assistant. However, Siri never gained this functionality because Apple’s privacy rules don’t allow it to link each user’s voice to their Apple ID. Consequently, engineers could not find a secure alternative way to bill the correct user for purchases.

The improvements making their way to Apple products and software use aggregated data, so users aren’t directly linked to their data. For the average Apple engineer, this is the equivalent of working with little to no information about how their product or service was used and perceived by consumers.

Would you pick privacy over personalization? Tell us why in the comments! We are eager to hear what you think.

[Via The Information]