Big techs battle over privacy: WWDC review

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Maybe we should have guessed it. After all, Tim Cook spent most of the last month bashing Facebook (FB) for collecting user data. Now it turns out there’s some bark to his bite.

Apple (AAPL) is in the midst of its annual WWDC conference, begun with Cook’s keynote address on Monday. One of the big items was the fact that AAPL’s Safari web browser will now restrict the amount of data other companies can collect. And when we say “other companies,” we mean big rivals like FB and even Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google search engine.

That’s not all. Other changes to the mobile iOS operating system will let parents limit the amount of time kids spend on certain apps (including FB’s). AAPL, after all, makes its money from selling phones and, increasingly, services. Time on page matters a lot less than it might to a social-media network. Sorry FB.

The news came shortly after AAPL received a bigger investment from Warren Buffett, who’s made a career of spotting successful brands like Coca-Cola and Geico insurance. All told, it looks like the tech giant may be in the midst of yet-another major transition. First it evolved from a desktop innovator into a smart-phone leader. Now it seems to be leveraging a huge user base to morph into a trusted steward of personal data.

Augmented reality (AR) was another big theme at WWDC, as expected. AAPL rolled out the ARkit 2 development environment, even letting you capture an object in three dimensions for later use in games and other applications. There’s also a new file type called USDZ that will make it easy to use graphics across different platforms and devices.

And, as expected, the Siri digital assistant is getting more intelligence. A walkie-talkie mode was also added to the Apple Watch.

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David Russell is VP of Market Intelligence at TradeStation Group. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a financial journalist and analyst, his background includes equities, emerging markets, fixed-income and derivatives. He previously worked at Bloomberg News, CNBC and E*TRADE Financial. Russell systematically reviews countless global financial headlines and indicators in search of broad tradable trends that present opportunities repeatedly over time. Customers can expect him to keep them appraised of sector leadership, relative strength and the big stories – especially those overlooked by other commentators. He’s also a big fan of generating leverage with options to limit capital at risk.