Apple on Monday said new operating systems powering its mobile devices and computers would include features designed to thwart the use of secret trackers to monitor people’s online activities.
The announcement by Apple comes amid a growing focus on protecting privacy following a Facebook data scandal and new rules being enforced by the European Union for online services.
Apple, kicking off its annual developers conference, announced that coming versions of software powering iPhone and Mac computers will block the use of so-called “cookies” from “like” buttons that can follow people from one website to another.
“Turns out ‘like’ buttons and ‘comment’ fields can be used to track you, so this year we are shutting that down,” Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi told a standing-room crowd of some 6,000 developers at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in the heart of Silicon Valley.
New MacOS Mojave and iOS 12 software to be release later this year will also make it harder to use trackers to create “unique fingerprints” by gleaning data about devices being used, according to Federighi.
“It will become dramatically more difficult for data companies to identify your device and track you,” Federighi said.
“We are bringing all these protections to both Mojave and iOS 12.”
Enhanced privacy was part of a slew of improvements touted by Apple to developers, whose creations are key to the popularity of iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
Apple’s software upgrades also include features that help users understand how much time they are spending on their devices, amid concerns of growing smartphone “addiction.”