How Apple’s Upcoming Services Will Protect Your Privacy



With Apple’s September 9 event less than a week away, all discussion of the company seems divided between two topics: last weekend’s iCloud hack, which saw the cloud storage accounts of a number of celebrities targeted, and the impending launch of the iPhone 6 and the iWatch wearable device. Amid reports and rumors on both fronts, and mixed discussions of privacy concerns and excitement over new devices and a new mobile operating system, Apple has published new App Store regulations that begin to reveal how it will protect your privacy with iOS 8.

New App Store guidelines are beginning to answer the question of how Apple will protect the sensitive data collected by iPhone sensors, wearable devices, and health-related apps. On Tuesday, Apple updated its App Store Review Guidelines to restrict apps from storing consumers’ health data in iCloud with the advent of the HealthKit framework expected with iOS 8 and the new iPhone 6. It’s these guidelines against which apps submitted to the App Store are judged, and Apple’s choice to update them now enables developers to get a better idea of what Apple will require of apps using the HealthKit and HomeKit frameworks, plus other features like the app beta-testing program TestFlight and the new app extensions framework that enables apps to share data with each other.

As a quick review, HealthKit is a framework for third-party app developers and hardware manufacturers. The platform aggregates and stores the health-related data that apps and devices collect, and users will access the information via the Health app, where they will also control what information is tracked and shared.

HomeKit is another framework for iOS 8 that will enable third-party apps and hardware for the smart home to communicate with each other, and to be controlled and configured by the user. The policies are especially important as Apple is expected to announce the iWatch, the popular name for an as-yet-unannounced wearable device reportedly equipped with a variety of sensors for health tracking. According to Re/Code’s John Paczkowski, the iWatch will also integrate with HomeKit, possibly as a point of control for the connected devices.

Last week, as AppleInsider reported, Apple detailed restrictions of developers’ use of HealthKit data in the licensing agreement of the latest iOS 8 beta. The rules prohibit developers from selling or otherwise distributing the sensitive data collected by the HealthKit framework, and dictate that developers can’t use the data “for any purpose other than providing health and/or fitness services.” Apps using the HealthKit API are also required to provide privacy policies to users.

On Tuesday, Apple followed up those restrictions by adding new information to its App Store Review Guidelines page. Apps using the HealthKit framework are prohibited from storing users’ health information in iCloud, and the App Store will reject HealthKit-integrated apps that do store health information in iCloud.