Apple recently announced a new product that could prevent users from giving away their email ID to every other site on the internet. It’s expected to launch sometime later in 2019.
Called “Sign-in with Apple,” it is similar to other Single Sign-on services provided by Google and Facebook. The button lets you login to websites without creating a new user account every time.
During the announcement, the company once again sailed on the privacy boat and said its new button gives far less data to websites. It can even create proxy email addresses so the original email id of the user is not shared with the site.
Google’s product management director Mark Risher told The Verge in an interview that “even if people are clicking our competitors button, that’s still way better than typing a bespoke username and password, or more commonly, a recycled username and password.”
Risher is responsible for the ‘Sign-in with Google’ button that you see on websites. He also said that “some competitors have dragged it in the wrong direction” and there is a confusion built around how these kinds of buttons work.
It could give some people an illusion that clicking the button would notify their friends what website they logged onto. So it’s “really beneficial” to clear out the air on how it actually works.
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Fisher doesn’t like the idea of one of the solutions being portrayed as pure and others as corrupt. Google logs the moment of authentication, but the information is not used for re-targeting or advertising, he said.
He doesn’t know how Apple’s button works but assumes that it’ll also log a moment of authentication.
Speaking of privacy, both Apple and Google have become more open about talking about each other’s privacy practices. We recently saw Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Craig Federighi taking a dig at their competitors without taking names.
The positives of Single Sign-on buttons
If we set aside the comparison of which button is better than others, the overall idea can be helpful to the users.
One big problem it addresses is password reuse. People nowadays have to create so many user accounts that they end up repeating their passwords. That’s why more and more companies are trying to move towards password-less solutions.
“We think that it’s much more important to reduce the total number of passwords out there,” Fisher said.
Another thing that could make our lives easier: using password managers. But in that case you have to create a new username and password which is stored in the password manager.
Here, in the case of Google and Facebook, a helpful thing is that you can have all your connected accounts in one place. So, cutting off the cable when you don’t want those accounts, becomes a lot easier.
What the developers think about it
According to a recently published story by Wired, app developers are having mixed reviews on Apple’s latest offering. While it is believed that it offers better security and privacy, skepticism is still present. Some believe implementing the button will be a lot different in the case of Apple.
Apple documents have suggested that users shouldn’t have to scroll down the screen to access the ‘Sign-in with Apple’ button. Also, it shouldn’t be smaller than other options.