Apple reveals new iOS 12 privacy features

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Apple has outlined plans to make it harder for Facebook to track users browsing the web using the next iterations of iOS and MacOS.

The upcoming versions of the software powering iPhone and Mac computers will block the use of so-called "cookies" from Facebook "like" buttons that can follow people from one website to another, Apple said. At the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California, on Monday, Apple's software VP Craig Federighi said the new features of their web browser, Safari, will be safe from prying from social media sites.

Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has returned to this theme in recent months as Facebook has come under fire for its collection of a huge amount of user data and its failure to protect that data from abuse by third parties - most notably Cambridge Analytica. When people visit sites, the characteristics of their device can be used by advertisers to create a "fingerprint" to track them.

"What we did was we integrated the ability to share in the operating system, make it simple to share a photo and that sort of thing", Cook also added. It will introduce security features to alert you when Facebook or other apps seek to collect data on you. The new Screen Time function in iOS 12 monitors how much time users spend with each app, how many times they pick up their phones, and which notifications catch their attention.

Enhanced privacy was part of a slew of improvements touted by Apple to developers, whose creations are key to the popularity of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

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The feature, "Screen Time", is account-based and works across all of a child's iOS devices. How else would Facebook know who liked the post?

Cook was speaking during Apple's annual developer conference, where his firm took veiled shots at Facebook. I don't think we've looked at any of the other guys to date and said, how fast can we get there?

While the feature will make launching apps and using the keyboard faster on newer phones, it's also an indicator that Apple is catering to older phones as more people are hanging onto their devices for longer. Apple's software chief Craig Federighi said that Facebook keeps watch over people in ways they might not be aware of. Some analysts remained unimpressed, saying Apple is lagging rivals in key areas like artificial intelligence as the smartphone market matures.

What Apple is doing, says tech analyst Patrick Moorhead, "is reminding you that you're being tracked", he says.

"If Apple has major improvements to Siri in its labs, it did not show them off today".