Apple Is Silently Giving Your iPhone A Major Privacy Upgrade

Senior Contributor
03.27.17

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How often do you think about how your iPhone works? Probably not very often, unless it suddenly stops working. But Apple is implementing a quiet, but major, change to the iPhone that will vastly improve your phone.

What is it? It’s an update to how your phone stores your photos, music, and other stuff. See, iOS, to this point, has used the same file system Apple used on all its products for the last thirty years — the Hierarchical File System, or HFS. As you can guess, a system originally designed for giant floppy disks and computers that are so primitive (at this point, your TV is probably smarter) isn’t terribly efficient, so Apple has upgraded it to Apple File System, or APFS.

The main thing you’ll notice is your iPhone update takes a little longer to download, a bit more available storage, slightly faster speed when it comes handling files, and, most importantly, easy backups in the form of “snapshots” for your files, and detailed encryption options. You can choose between not encrypting files and their metadata, “single-key” encryption that basically creates a “lock” for all the data on your device to keep other people from reading it (imagine a lock on the front door of your house), or multi-key encryption, which issues a different key for each file and its metadata (now imagine a lock on every room of your house as well as the front door).

Encrypting files doesn’t make it impossible for law enforcement and spy agencies to crack your phone, per se, but it does, for example, give the user the option to only decrypt relevant files. And multi-key encryption will force legal authorities to focus only on the files they have a warrant for. Considering Apple went toe-to-toe with the FBI on this issue recently (and won), it’s a shot across the bow in the privacy wars, and one Google and Microsoft are likely planning to follow suit with.

(Via The Verge)

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