It is being reported that Apple will be rolling out a newly redesigned version of it’s Apple Store mobile app. This app will bring a new feature to these app users. Personalized recommendations. This is something those of us living in the modern age should be used to. Anyone that has ordered from Amazon should already be ready for it. But this is Apple. And this may be very telling.
Apple has long held to the story that they are not collecting information on their users. However, at their recent Worldwide Developer’s Conference, Apple let it slip that they would be doing just that. But with a caveat. They claimed that while this data was being collected, they would not be building user profiles. Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi explained to those in attendance that Apple would be utilizing “differential privacy”
To explain differential privacy, Federighi stated, “Differential privacy is a research topic in the areas of statistics and data analytics that uses hashing, subsampling and noise injection to enable…crowdsourced learning while keeping the data of individual users completely private. Apple has been doing some super-important work in this area to enable differential privacy to be deployed at scale.” In the most basic of terms, Apple is stating that they are indeed collecting information on users, but doing it in such a way that this information can never be attributed back the the user.
So the question is, when Apple rolls out this new Apple Store app, where is it getting the information to tailor suggestions to specific users? It it possible that Apple told their users one thing while fully intending to do the exact opposite? Or will the personalized product suggestions not be personalized at all and simply be the same generic recommendations to each user? Whatever the real answer is, I’m guessing we’ll soon find out that Apple is being less than truthful in one way or another.