This year’s headlines pitting Tim Cook against Mark Zuckerberg are overshadowed by the fact that Google is now as important as Facebook. This is a serious issue for the 1-billion plus iPhone users. The fight for your data has intensified and this has serious implications. These are the reasons for recent updates from Apple, Google. This is why it’s important to delete all apps, including Google Maps.
Google continues to play privacy catch up with Apple. is evident in Android 12’s likely enhancements and Android Messengers. Apple is not. Who do you trust most?
For years, location data has been a central part of privacy debates. Since the beginning, Android and iOS have offered us options to restrict, deny and approximate data from the many apps that could access our data if we allowed them. Why do so many trivial apps and games require my exact location?
We can’t block access to mapping apps, even though we have selected “Location Services” to disable all of these apps in our iPhone’s Settings. However, many iPhone users are connected to Google Maps. The alarming privacy label comparison between Google Maps and Apple’s alternative should be cause for concern.
The problem is obvious: all data Google Maps claims it might collect can be linked back to your identity. This is how Google works. All of this information is linked together to create your profile and your timeline. You can delete certain data from your Google account, but most people don’t bother. Why should you ?
This is why we have to put up with it. My colleague Kate O’Flaherty put it so well in this week’s Straight Talking cyber (the video at top of the story). “All of Google’s stuff works really good; yes, you need to give up privacy, but if it doesn’t matter about privacy, it all works together.”
Google downplays privacy risks and says that Google Maps is built to protect your data. You can easily control your settings using industry-leading technology like differential privacy. We also keep your data secure with controls that make it easy to manage them. Google Maps continues to be the best way to explore and navigate the world. We provide rich local business information as well as best-in-class search and navigation.
This is a difficult line to walk when your entire business model revolves around targeted ads and user data. Google reminds users that Maps can be stopped from collecting data on their iPhones by choosing Incognito mode. This will ensure that data collected per the privacy label is not linked to specific accounts or individuals.
This private mode can have a significant impact on functionality: no “commute”, location history, sharing or completion suggestions; restrictions to Assistant in Navigation; offline maps and “your places” will not be available. However, Google will cease storing your personal location history and timeline.
Google Maps is a staple for iPhone users. You’ll probably remember the backlash in 2012 when Apple switched to its own application. Partly because Google Maps was addictive and partly because Apple’s initial Maps offering was poor. This is a perfect example of a product that was half-finished and launched too quickly.
STC’s Davey Winder explains that Apple Maps is “really good now” in this week’s video episode. “I use CarPlay and have been looking at Apple Maps’ updates. It’s far better than Google Maps… I am really amazed.”
However, many iPhone users haven’t felt the need to move from Google Maps. It remains the most downloaded navigation app on Apple’s App store. Apple is now asking those users to reconsider their thinking and has announced a major update for iOS 15.
“Apple is committed in building the best map,” it states. “And iOS 15 takes Maps further with brand-new ways to navigate and explore.” You will see more detail in the cities, including commercial districts, buildings, neighborhoods, elevations and landmarks. There will also be new road colors and labels and custom-designed landmarks.
So, we’re back to the privacy strike Apple launched at Google. We’ve already seen Apple’s quasi-VPN Private Relay as a strike against Chrome, the most used browser on the App Store. Mail Protection is also a swipe at Gmail the most widely used mail platform on App Store. Apple’s stock apps, Maps, Safari, and Mail, are installed by default. However, Apple now wants you to use them.
Davey is a CarPlay user. Apple’s new Maps will provide a “three-dimensional city-driving environment with new road details that helps users better understand and see important details such as bike lanes and medians. It’s easier for transit riders to find stations nearby and pin their favorite lines. Maps tracks along a chosen transit route and notifies users when it is time to disembark. Riders can also keep track of their progress on Apple Watch. iOS 15 users can hold their iPhone and Maps will generate a precise position for detailed walking directions in Augmented Reality.
Privacy is the key differentiator, and it’s not about shiny new functionality. You can still have Google-like functionality with its seamless ecosystem without having to compromise your privacy or pay for your data. Google, for its part, is based on data and has begun a battle to catch up with Apple regarding privacy. However, the motives and likely outcome are quite different.
Google is currently in an awkward position with its top iOS apps. The privacy labels it uses are far worse than those of its competitors. Too many data, all of which can be linked to individual identities. Apple clearly wants to be a leader in the privacy backlash of 2021, and is hammering home this message. Google is pushing its privacy messaging and Android 12 will provide improvements for its users. However, as I have commented before, do not follow the money.
If you are concerned about your privacy, you need to be careful about which apps and services you download. With improvements to Apple Maps, it is now the right time to stop Google from accessing the rich data derived via your map searches and navigation. You should also stick to Safari and Apple Mail or other private options like ProtonMail, DuckDuckGo and DuckDuckGo.
If we all don’t think about your apps and services, it sends the message that we don’t mind being the product. That our data is a free-forall, that we are okay with minor changes. Worse, even though we paid more for a more secure iPhone, we aren’t afraid to compromise it with the data that we freely share. Let’s not do this.
You may love Google Maps but those data harvesting revelations are coming just as Apple Maps continues its level playing field. It is time to delete the app and shut down at least some of Google’s data collection machines.