Apple provides privateness protections for customers, allows storage of IDs on iPhones By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Apple logo can be seen through a security fence built around the Apple Fifth Avenue store as the votes continue to be counted after the 2020 US presidential election in Manhattan, New York City, United States on November 5, 2020 . REUTERS / Andrew Kel

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Apple Inc. announced on Monday that it will offer the ability to digitally store government-issued IDs on iPhones and provide privacy for users in its iCloud service and email apps along with several updates to the software, running on their devices.

It also showed updates to its FaceTime video chat app, which offers the ability to schedule calls with multiple participants and make the software compatible with Android and Windows devices.

The move that Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 into a more direct competition with companies like Zoom video communication (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc, which grew in prominence during the pandemic, was the first major announcement from Apple’s annual software developer meeting.

Apple said users will be able to scan government-issued ID cards in participating US states, and the cards will be encrypted in a user’s digital wallet, where the company is currently offering in some US cities the ability to Store credit cards and public transport cards. It is working with the US Transportation Security Administration to accept the digital ID cards at airports.

Apple changed the name of its paid iCloud storage service to iCloud + and added privacy features. One called Private Relay obscures the identity and browsing behavior of a user from both Apple and advertisers. Another allows users to hide their email address when filling out online forms. Apple said iCloud prices won’t change despite the new features.

On privacy issues too, Apple said it is updating its email apps to block senders with trackers that detect when an email is opened. The company also introduced a new way to keep track of where third-party service apps are sending data, saying its Siri voice assistant no longer needs to connect to Apple’s servers to respond to some queries.

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, held online for its second year due to the pandemic, typically attracts thousands of app developers, many of whom hope the company will listen to their concerns.

Apple’s control over which apps get onto its app platform and its 15-30% commission on digital sales have undergone regulatory scrutiny and were the focus of an antitrust lawsuit by Fortnite inventor Epic Games that a state judge is considering how to rule.

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ 🙂 won’t be charging content creators for at least the next two years, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said shortly before the Apple conference.

Apple has said its App Store practices are growing the mobile software market by creating a paid app environment that consumers trust.

Not all developers have negative feelings, said Ben Bajarin, CEO of Creative Strategies, who surveyed Apple developers and found that more than 90% have no plans to stop developing apps for Apple devices.

Smaller independent developers who make $ 1 million or less per year and pay lower fees tend to be more positive about the value Apple offers than larger company developers who pay higher fees, according to results from more than 400 developers at the company current year survey.

However, some complaints are rife, with more than half of the developers saying the fees should be capped at 10%, and many said they would like more clarity about the reasons for rejecting apps from the App Store and solving such issues, said Bajarin.

“Developer support is definitely a pain point,” he said.

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