While Google and Apple have had their battles over the years as they fight to be the top dog in the technology space, they can work well together. They can also appreciate the advances that the other makes.
This is the case with Apple’s upcoming mobile update, iOS 13. At this month’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) they announced a new sign-in button that allows you to bypass the Facebook and Google sign-in buttons. While you may think that is upsetting to Google, that’s not necessarily the case.
Google’s Appreciation of Apple’s New Sign-In Button
The Verge recently interviewed Google’s product management director, Mark Risher, about Apple’s new feature. He’s appreciative of it and would rather have people using that than passwords.
Risher explains that while many believe the best way to maintain security is to use passwords with capital letters and symbols, “it actually has no bearing on phishing, no bearing on password reaches, no bearing on password reuse.”
Google believes “it’s much more important to reduce the total number of passwords,” as “some new service you’re just trying out doesn’t need a 750-person engineering team dedicated to security. It doesn’t need to build its own password database and then deal with all the liability and all the risk that comes with that.”
What Risher does object to is any misunderstanding that logging in with Apple is the preferable choice and that Facebook and Google “are kind of corrupt.”
He notes that they only log the moment of authentication and that it’s not used for any re-targeting or advertising and isn’t distributed anywhere. He adds that there is a page where you can check all the apps Google is connected to through the login, and you can break that connection at any time.
Yet, Risher all believes the new sign-in technology “will be better for the Internet and will make people much, much safer. Even if they’re clicking our competitor’s button when they’re logging into sites, that’s still way better than typing in a bespoke username and passwords, or more commonly, a recycle username and password.”
He also notes that technology evolves. While we may not have needed high security when we first signed up for a service, we may need it later. He uses Facebook as an example, as he didn’t have anything useful on the social network when he signed up in 2006, but thirteen years later, it’s more important to keep the data he has there safe.
Additionally, loosely-protected sites leave you more open to non-direct attacks, such as a scammer convincing you a message is from your friend and asking for a wire transfer or for the answer to a security question. The less chance there is of that interaction, the better.
Google has become more involved in this process as Risher says they believe users want them to be more involved, but I know that isn’t necessarily the case. He says users come to them and ask them to show them what looks suspicious, so now they tell people things such as recognizing when you haven’t signed in through a particular device in a while.
Risher recognizes it’s a “delicate balance” of how to “nag someone just the right amount but also give them that sort of editorial level of protection that they’re expecting.”
Setting a High Bar
Risher insists Google is setting a “very high bar” for themselves and continuing to look for areas where they can “refocus and re-audit.” And for Google, that’s why it was “a little annoying” the message that Apple was putting out there, as from their standpoint, “we’re trying to really hold ourselves to a high standard.”
But there are most assuredly many who will find fault with Risher’s reasoning. Google sees that they are setting a high bar by taking more control of user data to keep them safe, but users often feel they themselves need to do more to keep themselves safe from … Google. Apple’s sign-in feeds right into that, although there are also many people who don’t want to give Apple that much control of their data either.
How do you view the sign-in buttons through Apple, Google, and Facebook? Would you rather avoid them altogether, or do you appreciate they’re trying to help you keep your data safe? Tell us what you think in the comments below.