Apple continues privacy war with app tracker reports

Apple device users will now be able see when individual apps request to access features such as the microphone, camera and phone gallery, plus which third parties they have connected with in the last seven days.

The new "app privacy report" feature was unveiled at the firm annual developers conference, WWDC.

Apple has prioritized privacy lately, including a war on ad-tracking.

No new hardware was announced at the event, despite earlier speculation.

The new privacy report goes further than Apple existing "nutrition labels" which show users what kinds of permissions apps ask for, before they are installed.

It will allow users to dive deep into when exactly an app used the permissions it has been given - and what third-party websites it contacted or sent data to.

"Apple continues to double down on privacy," said Thomas Husson, analyst at Forrester.

"In this area, no doubt Apple is leading the pack and setting the tone for the rest of the industry."

Other privacy-focused updates included:

audio processing moving to be on-device only - so voice commands to Apple smart assistant Siri will not be uploaded to central servers, unlike competitors such as the Amazon Echo
Apple Mail to hide the IP address of the device it is accessed on, meaning that senders of marketing emails, for example, cannot track where an email is sent and whether it is read
Apple own web browser Safari will prevent any third parties from accessing a user IP address to block tracking
iCloud subscribers will have the option to route Safari traffic through two internet relays, similar to a VPN, to hide your identity; and the "hide my email" feature, first unveiled in 2019, will be extended to hide email addresses when used to sign up to a number of online services
However a previous move by the tech giant to offer its customers a choice over whether to accept tracking for the purposes of advertising was criticized by a number of firms, including Facebook and other free-to-use services, for which ad tracking is a rich source of revenue.

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