How Android N And iOS 10 Will Handle Privacy Differently

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Seemingly since the dawn of Android, one of the major flaws that get pointed out about the platform is the fact that using Google's services essentially requires handing them your digital life and most of your personal data on a platter. Proponents of iOS have argued that this is not the case with Apple's OS. Since they make their money on the hardware end and largely stay away from users' web activity, whereas Google utilizes user data to cater advertisements to make their money, this statement holds some water. There are still privacy concerns with iOS, however, and Android is not nearly as bad with privacy as some may believe. Both platforms, especially with the launch of new integrated products and services at their respective developer conferences this year, have their own way of dealing with sensitive user data.

Essentially, Android is cloud-centered for user data, while iOS is device-focused. Google relies mostly on device encryption and the security of their own servers, where tons of important user data ends up, but Apple utilizes what they call "differential privacy", a less individual form of recognition and data compilation that essentially crowdsources trends and language anonymously to allow for more intuitive A.I. and rich data services. Apple's announcements at WWDC focused on multi-device living, sync and smart services with as much being handled on-device as possible, causing some to say that they are shunning the cloud, unlike their competitors. Apple's cloud services, such as iCloud and iMessage, have remained largely unchanged, but this means that there are no new privacy concerns to worry about.

At Apple's recent WWDC conference, a good number of announcements made seemed to be moves to play catch up with Google. One example was the addition of facial recognition to Apple's Photos app, a feature that Google Photos has had since its inception. What sets Apple apart, however, is how little of such user data hits their servers. Facial recognition in the Photos app, for instance, depends on a new way to process images on the device, keeping all data strictly local. Apple also does not engage in the controversial user profiling that Google uses to serve ads, and almost all of their native apps and services have end-to-end encryption either as an option or enabled by default. This is not the case with all Google apps, though many feature encryption on some level. Both ecosystems, of course, allow a user to encrypt their entire device.

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