Is There Privacy in Apple's iOS 9.0 Proactive Assistance?

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, August 26, 2015 | | 0 comments »

iOS 9.0 Proactive Assistance
Last June 2015, Apple announced that the new iOS 9 is getting proactive. During the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company has announced proactive assistance as part of its latest annual iPhone / iPad update.

It means that iPhones and iPads will now anticipate what the user want based on context (i.e. geographical location, time of day, whatever app they have open) and make suggestions. When the user grabs their iPhone in the morning, for example, iOS will suggest apps to open based on what they usually do. The calendar app can now give them time to leave reminders based on traffic. Mail can look in their email and suggest Caller ID for unknown numbers, which is pretty cool.

Though "Proactive Assistant" got its one title card in the WWDC keynote presentation, Apple seems to be downplaying that as nomenclature, instead using it as a descriptor of iOS 9 (aka "Meet your proactive assistant). The intelligent features are divided among Siri, Spotlight, and platform in general.

Proactive will do things like:
  • >If the user calls a contact at a regular time on a regular basis, Proactive will start placing the contact’s icon in their Search screen at around the time it thinks the user might make that call.
  • If the user visits the gym regularly and like to play music there, they will see a Now Playing dialog appear in the lock screen (or when they connect their headphones) when they get to the gym.
  • If a call comes in from an unknown number that is contained within an email they have received, iOS 9 lets them know who might be calling.
  • If a call comes from an unknown landline number that isn’t included in any email, Proactive will tell the user where that number originates.
  • If the user receives an email containing reservation information (flight, restaurant, event) iOS 9 will create a suggested Calendar event for them.
  • If the user begins to write an email to multiple recipients iOS 9 will suggest other people they usually include in similar groups.
  • Proactive will learn to display relevant real-time traffic updates and an estimate of how long it will take for the user to reach their destination.
  • When the user connects up to their vehicle, Siri will ask if they want to continue listening to the thing they were listening to last time you drove.
So, with all this information inside of iOS 9, what about privacy? Does the user really want Apple knowing where they go, who they know, where they work and what they do?

Apple wants them to keep their private lives private.

This is why (unlike competitors who want to make money from insights into your private lives) it has engineered Proactive to process its data directly on the device, rather than in the cloud. This means the user's life does not become some Alphabetized telephone book for surveillance, sale or socio-pathic snooping.

The shocking thing about this is that Apple's execution of the feature proves there’s no real need to sacrifice privacy for convenience. The user can remain in control.


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