Unless you go completely off the grid, Unabomber style, and avoid contact with humanity, someone, somewhere, knows something about you and what you do. Google and Facebook and Amazon have already gathered so much information about us individually that we ourselves might be surprised at some of the detail.
Apple claims a different business model; one where using private data as an advertising enticement is not much a part of the revenue and profit mix. The iPhone maker even differentiates itself from the likes of Google, Facebook, and Amazon and pokes at companies that collect data from users.
Does Apple collect data from customers?
I walked into the Apple Store this week and was informed by my iPhone that I have an unused Apple Gift Card in my billfold. When I logged into my iCloud account to edit something I noticed that Apple knows what devices I have that are connected to that account. Apple knows what I bought on the iOS and Mac App Stores.
Both Google and Apple do something similar but in different ways.
For example, Google stores our photos and runs machine learning and AI buzzwords against the photos so they can be easier categorized and searched. All that is done on Google’s servers and Google keeps the harvested data.
On the other hand, Apple does the same thing, but all that grouping and facial recognition and tagging is done on each device– Mac or iOS. On the device.
Yet, Apple still collects information about our travels and whereabouts via Maps. Location information is gathered, too, some by apps that we give permission to if it might be useful. Weather apps, for example. We put bookmarks into Safari which stores bookmarks on iCloud– encrypted– for other devices, but Apple has a key to gather the information if it needs it.
Yes, Apple has information it gathers about us, how we use our products and apps, where we are, what we do and use, and much more. The difference is this. Apple scrubs most of that data from any connection to us. That makes it useful to Apple to improve products, features, and functions.
The information Apple keeps can be downloaded to your Mac or iPhone or iPad so you can see exactly what Apple has that is tied to us. And, Apple makes it drop dead easy to delete that information with a few clicks on its Privacy website (the deletion isn’t instant, though).
As opposed to Google or Facebook or Amazon (try deleting your purchase history), Apple gives us other options to keep our information from becoming too useful. We can reset our Siri identifier. We can delete anything and everything on our iCloud account. Anything on our devices can be deleted, too.
Apple doesn’t need it.
Yes, Apple knows about its customers but doesn’t not care much about the information it gathers and gives freely accessible options to minimize or eliminate all of it.
I like that.