WWDC14 for non-developers (Part 4: Apple's commitment to security & privacy)

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for far too long & Luis Abreu beat me to it. His post about IOS8 Privacy Updates is the most extensive guide so far on the implications of Apple's renewed commitment to respecting their user's privacy.

Privacy is one of the themes that kept popping up again and again in the WWDC sessions. By now it's pretty clear that Apple sees privacy as a competitive advantage & a differentiator from the likes of Google and Facebook.

I'm thrilled that at least some companies are making a stand for users' privacy but I'm also worried that they may be reading the future wrong & puts them at a competitive disadvantage to Google. Big Data is often only useful in the aggregate & allows companies like Google to build superior products because they don't support strong privacy. Some examples:

Google Now's card interface can better predict which information to show next if it can draw from a large sample size of behaviour.

Voice recognition (e.g. Siri) can be vastly improved when voice sample data is collected & stored server-side to better train the algorithms.

Same goes for Apple's new predictive keyboard input: Apple guarantees that your keystrokes are processed on the device and are never sent to Apple. But this also means Apple can't use that data to improve their algos.

For now I'm happy to accept a slightly worse user experience for improved privacy, but what about a few years down the line? What if the Apple user experience starts to suffer because of their stance on privacy? Will I still think the same when Apple stops being synonymous with "user friendly"? What about you? Do you favour privacy over convenience?