Apple Debuts Single Sign-On Functionality


There was a lot to see at Apple’s big spring show, its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), with big updates for Apple TV, big changes pushing privacy for iOS 9 and a whole host of features coming to the Apple Watch.

The theme of the keynote at WWDC was all the ways the Apple Watch is becoming an increasing stand-alone device, offering unique in functions from its more famous older brother the iPhone. Developers going forward will be able to create stand-alone apps for the device — the requirement for a corresponding iPhone/iPad app for support is dropping away.

Apple CEO Tim Cook noted Apple was “also excited to announce that the App Store is coming to the Apple Watch” — presumably to support all those new stand-alone apps. Going forward, watch wearers will be able to download watch apps directly to their wearable. The new app store will be searchable by swiping or by talking with Siri. In addition, Cook announced users will be able to browse Apple Watch apps via a list curated by Apple’s editorial team.

Apple also announced additional health tracking and sharing support for users, including fitness trends tracking, which will measure wearer physical activity over the last 90 days against activity throughout the last year. If things are heading in a positive direction, the phone will send encouraging messages. If the arrows are pointing the wrong way, on the other hand, the phone will start increasing its useful suggestions to stand up, walk around and the like.

The Apple Watch will also chime every hour on the hour, either by a slight vibration on the wrist, or (if sound is on) via an audible chime.

Apple’s other most eye-catching news out of WWDC today was in some of its privacy-focused updates to iOS. That means users going forward will now have the ability to allow a third-party app to know their location once, without having to switch on location access in general. Apple will also block third-party apps from inferring location data by scanning bluetooth or wireless network data in range.

The change that got the biggest announcement was the forthcoming login with Apple, which will give app developers a chance to insert a login button for sites that will let uses authenticate themselves via their Apple ID and Face ID, as opposed to using their social media login credentials.

Users will also get a new option for dealing with apps that request an email address to create an account. Customers can share their own email address if they choose, but if they don’t want to, Apple will randomly generate an Apple email address to which all correspondence from that merchant will flow. Apple will forward those emails to the user’s regular account until they are asked to stop. Every merchant can have a different random account tied to it.

The point, Cook noted — and what holds true for many of today’s announcements — is consumer control. It’s consumers being able to use their devices to their fullest, while also being confident that their data is secure and protected.