Apple has updated its guidelines for App Store with an emphasis on privacy. One of these inclusions explicitly states: “VPN apps may not sell, use, or disclose any data to third parties for any purpose, and must commit to this in their privacy policy.”

Many popular VPN providers, especially free ones, will be affected by this. It is unfortunately commonplace for VPN apps to treat user data as a revenue source – or even handing it over to foreign government powers.

We undertook an investigation that revealed the extent to which many of these apps are unreliable and untrustworthy.

A number of privacy innovations were also revealed during Apple’s 2019 World Wide Development Conference (WWDC) that took place on June 3 at the San Jose Convention Center. This includes Sign In with Apple, AdGuard Pro, and more.

‘Sign In with Apple’ is being touted as a privacy-friendly alternative to ‘Sign in with Facebook’ and ‘Sign in with Google’ when logging into websites and services on the web. During the keynote speech, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi criticized logins “that can be used to track you” and promoted Apple’s alternative as a “fast, easy sign in without the tracking.” The user is authenticated with face or touch ID that reveals no personal information. It will be available with iOS 13.

On top of that, app requests for emails can now be responded to via a ‘Hide my Email’ option in which Apple generates a random email account for each app that you use, which then forwards any correspondence to your authentic address, protecting your real email. The response online has been extremely positive.

This comes alongside a shift towards ‘one time location sharing’, whereby, “For the first time, you can share your location to an app just once and then require it to ask you again next time it wants.” Federighi highlighted that a lot of apps try and bypass the location sharing restrictions by scanning WiFi and Bluetooth signals in that particular area which could reveal the users’ location. He added, “We’re shutting the door on that abuse as well.”

AdGuard Pro will also be re-introduced to iOS following its suspension as a result of Apple’s privacy policy. With an updated privacy policy, the popular ad blocker will be made available once again.

Apple has consistently positioned itself counter to tech giants Facebook and Google in its respect for user privacy, with CEO Tim Cook often making pro-privacy statements such as “privacy is a human right” and Apple producing advertisements that emphasize the company’s dedication to user privacy.

Apple claims to focus on a business model that sells hardware and software rather than information, and the company famously came to blows with the FBI over its refusal to conceive backdoor access to cryptographically protected iPhones.

These new privacy innovations go a long way in helping to cement Apple’s user-orientated, privacy-focused USP.