One of the many new features baked into iOS 13 is a “Sign in with Apple” option for third-party apps. That’s great for consumers, but it might not be so great for Apple itself. In fact, some people are already raising concerns about certain developer guidelines associated with the feature.
Sign-In with Apple
You’re probably already familiar with the Sign in with Google or Facebook options present on quite a few apps in the iOS App Store. Those buttons are incredibly convenient for creating a new account, but they do come with a privacy tradeoff.
Namely, the third-party app will typically gain access to some information on the social media platform you’re using to login with. That could include your name, profile picture, or more sensitive data like your email address.
The social media platform itself will also gain some data about the third-party apps that you use. When you’re talking about data harvesting giants like Google and Facebook, that’s not ideal.
The upcoming Sign in with Apple button is Apple’s solution to the problem. For one, Apple isn’t monetizing massive amounts of data on the various apps you use. And Sign in with Apple comes with the ability to forego sharing your actual email address with a developer in favor of a throwaway Apple relay address that forwards emails to your actual account.
For consumers, there’s nothing about this option that’s really concerning. But for app developers, it’s another story.
Apple’s Developer Guidelines
The Sign in with Apple button comes with one developer requirement and one developer “suggestion.”
As far as the requirement, going forward, any app that offers Sign in with Google, Facebook or Twitter options must offer a Sign in with Apple option. There’s no way around this for developers.
But Reuters notes that there’s another optional “suggestion” that is now part of Apple’s “Human Interface Guidelines.”
Namely, Apple suggests that developers place its Sign in with Apple login button above rival buttons from the likes of Facebook, Google or other social media platforms.
Why This Could Be Bad
At first glance, this kind of makes sense. After all, these apps are being created for a platform designed, marketed and maintained by Apple.
But the new developer guidelines come at a time when the Cupertino tech giant is under scrutiny for its alleged anti-competitive practices.
As The Verge’s Casey Newton points out, Apple may be tempting fate by asking developers to make its own button more prominent. This is especially precarious for Apple because many average users may go for the top sign-in button because they see it as the “default” option.
Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines are not requirements to get an app on the App Store. But many developers believe that taking them into account is one way to help an app get approved.
In other words, whether or not Apple is actually using its dominance to edge out competitors, the move probably won’t look good in antitrust investigations down the road.