Raise your hand if you're paranoid about people stealing information from your phone. (Me!) I'm especially vigilant when Apple asks if I want to send the analytics from my device — or when any kind of company asks, really. But just for the sake of staying informed, you should know what what actually happens when you let Apple see your analytics.
According to Apple's privacy page, none of the information your iOS device collects to send to Apple can identify you personally. Plus, the device will only send the analytics after you've given your explicit consent — and you can easily opt out.
That's comforting and everything, but I think we'd all feel a little better if we had more information. For instance, what are these "analytics" Apple is collecting, anyway? Is my phone sending selfies from my camera roll? Which selfies? Pre-filter or post-filter? Does it send old Tinder messages from five years ago? Lord, strike me down now, if that's the case.
Breathe easy, my friends, because Apple says that analytics include things like:
- Hardware and operating system specifications.
- Performance statistics.
- Data on how you use your device and various applications.
In other words: not the 15,000 attempts you made to get your dog to look at the camera mid-selfie.
Butwaitasecond. What about my personal information?
When Apple collects this information, your personal data is not collected at all — it's removed before Apple receives it, or it's protected by something called Differential Privacy, which lets Apple improve its services and devices without overstepping any boundaries when it comes to your privacy.
More specifically, Differential Privacy inserts random information into your data before it's sent off to Apple. This makes it impossible for Apple to associate that information with your device. Instead, Apple is looking for patterns when it combines your data with that of other users.
All of this means that Apple only conducts analysis on the data after it's gone through their magical remove-or-disguise-any-personal-information machine. By the time the information gets to Apple, it can't be associated with you in any way, shape, or form.
As Apple has recently iterated with an ad promoting its privacy measures, the company takes privacy seriously. Differential Privacy and on-device intelligence help keep control in your hands, so you decide what you want to do with your own information. Encryption is also a biggie, as Apple ensures that when you're communicating with another Apple device, your messages are safe.
In fact, you can figure out if your messages are protected without needing to know anything specific about encryption. You know how sometimes, when you text someone, the text bubbles are green and not blue? Most of us know that this means we're communicating with someone who's not using an iPhone.
But! The green text bubbles on your iPhone also mean the text messages are not encrypted — unlike the blue ones, which are. Fortunately, there are work-arounds. For instance, you could instead use WhatsApp, which operates with end-to-end encryption and works on both iPhone and Android. Signal is another option.
Bear in mind, though, that both texters need to be using the same app. Otherwise, the end-to-end encryption won't work.
Apple takes similar security precautions with all of its products. If you're shopping, paying bills, or chatting with your grandma on FaceTime, everything is encrypted. When you use Apple Pay, your card numbers are never stored on the device or Apple's servers. All of your iCloud content? Encrypted.
The world of personal privacy only gets more complicated. We all need to be proactive in trying to better understand what happens with our information. Apple's educational material on privacy is a great place to start. And now you know that in the future, when Apple asks if you want to send analytics, you're safe to consent. They won't see your pre-filter, dog selfie fails or anything.