Apple has published four new white papers detailing privacy provisions in its location services technology, the Photos app, the Safari browser and the sign-in feature that was released this fall.
The move comes as Apple increasingly promotes privacy and security features as a selling point — for instance, a recent ad campaign uses the tagline, "Privacy. That's iPhone." While Apple is a secretive company in its operations, it's becoming increasingly transparent about the nuts and bolts of its software to convince privacy advocates that its products do a better job of protecting personal data than those of competitors.
Privacy also helps Apple distinguish itself from its Silicon Valley neighbors Facebook and Google, which face increasing public pressure stemming from how they handle user data. Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly spoken publicly about privacy and even called for federal regulation around personal data. Cook has also said Apple's business model, which is based on sales of devices, as one reason to trust Apple products over the competition, including phones running Google's Android, because Google makes money by targeting advertisements.
The Safari paper also describes how Apple makes it more difficult for ad companies and data firms to track your computer based on technical information like the size of the browser window or your operating system, called "fingerprinting." Safari's anti-fingerprinting technology was criticized by several advertising trade groups last year.
The latest disclosures were part of an annual update for a section on Apple's website for information dedicated to privacy. Apple also runs a portal that enables people to download their data or delete their account.
At the same time, Apple has faced some privacy controversies of its own: Apps that run on the iPhone can leak data. Last summer, Apple apologized after The Guardian reported that its Siri voice assistant stores user recordings in ways that customers weren't aware of.
Apple privacy features have also annoyed people and companies at other companies, including rivals.
For example, the document on location services describes how Apple's new software displays a pop-up when apps collect location data in the background. Even before the new iPhone software launched, Facebook published a blog post warning its users about it.
One image in the Safari document is a pop-up showing Facebook asking for access to cookies to "track your activity" on a Mac computer.