Commentary

Apple's Latest Updates Include More Privacy Tools, Podcast Transcriptions

Apple’s annual conference,aimed at software developers, brought several announcements that likely will have a limited effect on publishers.

Overall, the conference wasn’t as significant for publishers as the company’s introduction of Apple News Plus, the digital newsstand that the iPhone maker officially started in March. The service charges $9.99 a month for unlimited access to hundreds of magazines and newspapers, and it’s not clear how many people continued to subscribe after getting a promotional first month free.

Apple emphasized new privacy controls that will give customers greater control over how their data is shared with third parties, including websites and app developers. Its upcoming “Sign in With Apple” takes aim at similar services by Facebook and Google that let people sign into other websites with the same email and password.

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Facebook and Google have responded to privacy concerns by giving people more control over the personal information they share with others through their sign-in services.

Apple goes a step further — creating a fictitious email address to share with third parties, letting consumers protect their personal email accounts from being used as an identifier.

Apple said its iPad tablet, which the late company founder Steve Jobs had once envisioned as a digital platform for reading magazines, will have its own operating system separate from the iPhone. The new offshoot will have its own home-screen design, with a split-screen mode to let users flip through apps or open multiple views of the same app.

The company also plans to roll out a transcription service for podcasts that will make their content more easily searchable. Many publishers are creating podcasts to extend their brands into audio streaming and to seek additional sponsorship dollars.

With Google announcing last month it would start showing podcast results in its searches, Apple’s text transcription likely will help more consumers find podcasts. That should be a big improvement over the current method of requiring listeners to scroll through thousands of podcast titles that have little description of their contents.

Apple also showed off an updated new technology to create augmented-reality experiences, which blend the digital and physical worlds, as in the popular “Pokemon Go” game. A handful of publishers have experimented with AR features.

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