Some of you might remember a Privacy Cookbook entry about Ant-laden gloves and an Apple? So just like last time please bear with me and not go "damn he's lost his mind and become an Apple fanboy!"
I was making a point back then about The Sateré-Mawé indigenous people, ants and, well,...Apple. My boy is a big Apple Fan, even though he's switched all his gaming over to Linux which is a great first step in the right direction. But today I want to go in a different direction because I believe every small thing is a step in the right direction. In fact, I would say every little thing matters, like replacing WhatsApp with Signal (or Matrix for example with Element). On Android perhaps don't use any Google apps, don't log in to Google and use F-Droid and not the Playstore are all already great steps, not a total de-googled step, but every little thing counts and gives Google fewer options to track you and sell your data.
And regardless of how much of us privacy orientated people prefer GrapheneOS and Linux as our daily drive, we can't ignore that Apple did a few things right. And it is only fair to point these things out and hope that other open-source projects or closed-gardens follow suit.
With iOS 14 Apple introduced privacy to the App Store. Every App developer now needs to submit what the app is doing, in other words, if they have trackers, if they connect to locations etc. There's a great step in the right direction, even though Apple is not really checking on each app and what the devs submit!. However, if an app gets caught doing something what was not submitted or was wrongfully submitted to the App Store Apple will remove the app indefinitely from its store. This is a great step in the right direction, and we have seen thanks to this approach Android is integrating something similar to the next Android update.
I was also therefore happy seeing the indicators of microphone and cameras on iOS. Another great step forward was, of course, the approximate location feature which only allows apps to get your approximate location, very handy for weather apps, or local news etc. without giving the game away completely.
In the new update on iOS 14.5 we will see something else that goes in the right direction. Apple is replacing the Safari feature for fraudulent websites and therefore Google Safe Browsing to be protected over an Apple tunnel. This means Google will not get your IP address or has the option to see what sites you use. Less tracking if you like. I highly doubt we'll see this on an Android update ;) but yes, I can see GrapheneOS having their tunnel server for this in an upcoming update.
Zero-Click Attack Prevention is another interesting approach. iOS and iPadOS 14.5 include extended PAC security provisions that are designed to make zero-click attacks more difficult to execute. With zero-click attacks, hackers are able to break into a target device without victim interaction, such as clicking a link, which makes them harder for users to detect.
Apple is already addressing iMessage Zero-Click attacks with something they call BlastDoor which will have links sent via iMessage (and later via mail etc.) and opened in isolation. This means that even if it has trackers or a bad code the link would not reach the operating system. I hope we'll see this for other apps as well, and perhaps the folks at Element, Signal et al could have a look and do this for their own apps.
I know Apple is still not open-source and by no mean matches the privacy you get with GrapheneOS or with a better Linux setup, but for the users who ask what should I get Android or iOS (out of the box) wise, perhaps for the non-geeks out there, the grandmothers, mothers or hell even the parents who can't completely tell their children to 'not use any gadgets', iOS is easing in the right direction.
The best part is that it doesn't take tweaks or much of an effort to get less tracked and less data sold. With a DNS, perhaps with some tracker blocking including Apple's own, you can get a pretty sweet but easy setup.
I recommend NextDNS, which has a simple iOS setup, by just visiting apple.nextdns.io
Within NextDNS you can block trackers based on companies, this includes an Apple list which blocks Apple from collecting most data, yet leaves the OS fully functional.
This is not a Privacy Cookbook entry on how to tweak your phone article, but to make a point that Apple is, indeed, trying to do a few more things right and that, hopefully, we'll see Android follow. The argument for Linux and GrapheneOS stands, they're open-source, you can tweak it better and you can install apps that are not on any App Store.
However, for most people who need to use apps that need location services, be it for transportation, for travelers or, of course, simply for users who don't want to tweak and search for a replacement app that will almost be the same as the app that you used to use, iOS is indeed doing some things right.
I still recommend Linux and GrapheneOS or better no cellphone at all! But I wanted to make the point that not all Apple does toward privacy is a gimmick and just used to promote their product.
But I understand that 'out of the box' iOS beats Android on privacy. The Screen Time app can also prevent Apple or any other app from modifying things on your setup. A great setup guide, which is easy to follow, was recently published on thenewoil
And best of all you can limit your kids app use! Have a look to the Screen Time setup and get better control over what your kid is using. I understand that kids use too many gadgets, but it is your job to limit and control the apps your kid is using. And iOS as a very cool and easy app to do just that.
I know many of my followers will have arguments about Apple being a closed- garden, and that Linux phones are out there as well. I also mentioned replace WhatsApp with Signal (and I do not use Signal, let alone WhatsApp) I use Matrix (SchildiChat and GrapheneOS) if I use a phone. Furthermore, I use Linux as my daily drive when it comes to my personal choice of OS, that is for privacy reasons, but also because I just love it.
But not everyone has the knowledge, or the time to learn new tricks. As we say an old dog learns no new tricks. But an old dog that can send a WhatsApp message on Android will be able to use Signal on iOS. And every bit counts!