One of the bigger security announcements from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference this week is Apple’s new requirement that app developers must implement the company’s new single sign-on solution, Sign In with Apple, wherever they already offer another third-party sign-on system.
Apple’s decision to require its button in those scenarios is considered risky — especially at a time when the company is in the crosshairs of the U.S. Department of Justice over antitrust concerns. Apple’s position on the matter is that it wants to give its customers a more private choice.
From a security perspective, Apple offers a better option for both users and developers alike compared with other social login systems which, in the past, have been afflicted by massive security and privacy breaches.
Apple’s system also ships with features that benefit iOS app developers — like built-in two-factor authentication support, anti-fraud detection and the ability to offer a one-touch, frictionless means of entry into their app, among other things.
For consumers, they get the same fast sign-up and login as with other services, but with the knowledge that the apps aren’t sharing their information with an entity they don’t trust.
Consumers can also choose whether or not to share their email with the app developer.
If customers decide not to share their real email, Apple will generate a random — but real and verified — email address for the app in question to use, then will route the emails the app wants to send to that address. The user can choose to disable this app email address at any time like — like if they begin to get spam, for example.
The ability to create disposable emails is not new — you can add pluses (+) or dots (.) in your Gmail address, for example, to set up filters to delete emails from addresses that become compromised. Other email providers offer similar features.
However, this is the first time a major technology company has allowed customers to not only create these private email addresses for sign-ins to apps, but to also disable those addresses at any time if they want to stop receiving emails at them.
Despite the advantages to the system, the news left many wondering how the new Sign In with Apple button would work, in practice, at a more detailed level. We’ve tried to answer some of the more burning and common questions. There are likely many more questions that won’t be answered until the system goes live for developers and Apple updates its App Review Guidelines, which are its hard-and-fast rules for apps that decide entry into the App Store.
1) What information does the app developer receive when a user chooses Sign In with Apple?
The developer only receives the user’s name associated with their Apple ID, the user’s verified email address — or the random email address that routes email to their inbox, while protecting their privacy — and a unique stable identifier that allows them to set up the user’s account in their system.
Unlike Facebook, which has a treasure trove of personal information to share with apps, there are no other permissions settings or dialog boxes with Apple’s sign in that will confront the user with having to choose what information the app can access. (Apple would have nothing more to share, anyway, as it doesn’t collect user data like birthday, hometown, Facebook Likes or a friend list, among other things.)
2) Do I have to sign up again with the app when I get a new iPhone or switch over to use the app on my iPad?
No. For the end user, the Sign In with Apple option is as fast as using the Facebook or Google alternative. It’s just a tap to get into the app, even when moving between Apple devices.
3) Does Sign In with Apple work on my Apple Watch? Apple TV? Mac?
Sign In with Apple works across all Apple devices — iOS/iPadOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch), Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
4) But what about Android? What about web apps? I use my apps everywhere!
There’s a solution, but it’s not quite as seamless.
If a user signs up for an app on their Apple device — like, say, their iPad — then wants to use the app on a non-Apple device, like their Android phone, they’re sent over to a web view.
Here, they’ll see a Sign In with Apple login screen where they’ll enter their Apple ID and password to complete the sign in. This would also be the case for web apps that need to offer the Sign In with Apple login option.
(Apple does not offer a native SDK for Android developers, and honestly, it’s not likely to do so any time soon.)
5) What happens if you tap Sign In with Apple, but you forgot you already signed up for that app with your email address?
Sign In with Apple integrates with iCloud Keychain so if you already have an account with the app, the app will alert you to this and ask if you want to log in with your existing email instead. The app will check for this by domain (e.g. Uber), not by trying to match the email address associated with your Apple ID — which could be different from the email used to sign up for the account.
6) If I let Apple make up a random email address for me, does Apple now have the ability to read my email?
No. For those who want a randomized email address, Apple offers a private email relay service. That means it’s only routing emails to your personal inbox. It’s not hosting them.
Developers must register with Apple which email domains they’ll use to contact their customers and can only register up to 10 domains and communication emails.
7) How does Sign In with Apple offer two-factor authentication?
On Apple devices, users authenticate with either Touch ID or Face ID for a second layer of protection beyond the username/password combination.
On non-Apple devices, Apple sends a six-digit code to a trusted device or phone number.
8) How does Sign In with Apple prove I’m not a bot?
App developers get access to Apple’s robust anti-fraud technology to identify which users are real and which may not be real. This is tech it has built up over the years for its own services, like iTunes.
The system uses on-device machine learning and other information to generate a signal for developers when a user is verified as being “real.” This is a simple bit that’s either set to yes or no, so to speak.
But a “no” doesn’t mean the user is a definitely a bot — they could just be a new user on a new device. However, the developer can take this signal into consideration when providing access to features in their apps or when running their own additional anti-fraud detection measures, for example.
9) When does an app have to offer Sign In with Apple?
Apple is requiring that its button is offered whenever another third-party sign-in option is offered, like Facebook’s login or Google. Note that Apple is not saying “social” login though. It’s saying “third-party,” which is more encompassing.
This requirement is what’s shocking people as it seems heavy-handed.
But Apple believes customers deserve a private choice, which is why it’s making its sign-in required when other third-party options are provided.
But developers don’t have to use Sign In with Apple. They can opt to just use their own direct login instead. (Or they can offer a direct login and Sign In with Apple, if they want.)
10) Do the apps only have to offer Sign In with Apple if they offer Google and/or Facebook login options, or does a Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat sign-in button count, too?
Apple hasn’t specified this is only for apps with Facebook or Google logins, or even “social” logins. Just any third-party sign-in system. Although Facebook and Google are obviously the biggest providers of third-party sign-in services to apps, other companies, including Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, have been developing their own sign-in options, as well.
As third-party providers, they too would fall under this new developer requirement.
11) Does the app have to put the Sign In with Apple button on top of the other options or else get rejected from the App Store?
Apple is suggesting its button be prominent.
The company so far has only provided design guidelines to app developers. The App Store guidelines, which dictate the rules around App Store rejections, won’t be updated until this fall.
And it’s the design guidelines that say the Apple button should be on the top of a stack of other third-party sign-in buttons, as recently reported.
The design guidelines also say that the button must be the same size or larger than competitors’ buttons, and users shouldn’t have to scroll to see the Apple button.
But to be clear, these are Apple’s suggested design patterns, not requirements. The company doesn’t make its design suggestions law because it knows that developers do need a degree of flexibility when it comes to their own apps and how to provide their own users with the best experience.
12) If the app only has users signing up with their phone number or just their email, does it also have to offer the Apple button?
Not at this time, but developers can add the option if they want.
13) After you sign in using Apple, will the app still make you confirm your email address by clicking a link they send you?
Nope. Apple is verifying you, so you don’t have to do that anymore.
14) What if the app developer needs you to sign in with Google, because they’re providing some sort of app that works with Google’s services, like Google Drive or Docs, for example?
This user experience would not be great. If you signed in with Apple’s login, you’d then have to do a second authentication with Google once in the app.
It’s unclear at this time how Apple will handle these situations, as the company hasn’t offered any sort of exception list to its requirement, nor any way for app developers to request exceptions. The company didn’t give us an answer when we asked directly.
It may be one of those cases where this is handled privately with specific developers, without announcing anything publicly. Or it may not make any exceptions at all, ever. And if regulators took issue with Apple’s requirement, things could change as well. Time will tell.
15) What if I currently sign in with Facebook, but want to switch to Sign In with Apple?
Apple isn’t providing a direct way for customers to switch for themselves from Facebook or another sign-in option to Apple ID. It instead leaves migration up to developers. The company’s stance is that developers can and should always offer a way for users to stop using their social login, if they choose.
In the past, developers could offer users a way to sign in only with their email instead of the third-party login. This is helpful particularly in those cases where users are deleting their Facebook accounts, for example, or removing apps’ ability to access their Facebook information.
Once Apple ID launches, developers will be able to offer customers a way to switch from a third-party login to Sign In with Apple ID in a similar way.
Do you have more questions you wish Apple would answer? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
YouTube teases expansion of livestream shopping with new features arriving later this year – TechCrunch
In recent years, YouTube has been working to transform its platform into more of a shopping destination with product launches like shoppable ads or more recently, the ability to shop directly from livestreams hosted by creators. Now, it’s furthering that investment with new features for live shopping experiences. At yesterday’s YouTube Brandcast event, where the company pitched itself to advertisers as a better place for their TV ad dollars, YouTube teased upcoming features that it claimed would make it easier for viewers to discover and buy from brands.
The company touted its forthcoming tools as offering advertisers a better way to engage viewers and make connections with their audience.
One new feature, explained YouTube, will allow two creators to go live at the same time to cohost a single live shopping stream. This could effectively double the draw for the event, as each creator would bring their own fanbase to the stream.
This feature arrives shortly after YouTube in March announced a pilot program called “Go Live Together,” a new mobile collaborative streaming feature that would enable creators to invite guests to their livestream with a link before going live together. This trial suggested YouTube had its eye on developing tools to better power joint livestreams — just as it’s now planning to introduce with its upcoming two-person live shopping streams. The addition could also make YouTube more competitive with Instagram which launched the ability for creators to go live with up to three people last year.
In addition to leveraging creators to build an audience for a live shopping event, YouTube’s shopping livestreams platform also offers other tools specifically designed to drive sales. The brand-integrated shopping experience actually allows viewers to shop the products shown in the video by tapping on a built-in “view products” button which then brings up a list of items featured by the creators.
The company says its new two-person live shopping feature will roll out sometime later this year.
Another upcoming option announced at Brandcast is something YouTube calls “live redirects.”
In this case, creators will be able to start a shopping livestream on their channel, then redirect their audience over to a brand’s channel for fans to keep watching. This allows brands to tap into the power of the creator’s platform and reach their fanbase, but then gives the brands themselves access to that audience — and the key metrics and analytics associated with their live event — directly on their own YouTube channel. This will also roll out sometime this year, says YouTube, but didn’t provide a timeframe.
YouTube’s announcements follow the broader growth of the live e-commerce market in the U.S. — a trend inspired by the livestream shopping activity surging in China, where streamers can pull in billions of dollars in a matter of hours. Today, a number of startups have also entered this space, including TalkShopLive, PopShop Live, NTWRK, Whatnot, ShopShops, Supergreat, and others. Klarna even added virtual shopping capabilities to connect its buy-now, pay-later customers with live product demos from retail partners.
Retailers, too, are getting in on the action. Nordstrom launched a live events platform, while Forever 21 and Macy’s are among those that added live shopping to their apps.
Meanwhile, big tech platforms are wooing brands by touting their wider reach.
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen Walmart pilot testing TikTok’s first livestreamed shopping experience; Facebook’s live shopping boosting sales for brands like Petco, Benefit, Samsung, Anne Klein, and others; and Instagram hosting live shopping events to cater to holiday crowds. Twitter even began to test livestream shopping, also with Walmart’s help on its pilot run — but it’s unclear where such initiatives will land if the Elon Musk buyout comes to pass.
While YouTube is certainly one of the largest creator platforms for video, there is some indication that it needs to catch up to its big tech rivals in livestream shopping, however. An eMarketer study from Jan. 2022 found that only 14.4% of survey respondents said YouTube’s platform drove them to purchase during a livestream event compared with 15.8% for TikTok, 45.8% for Instagram, and 57.8% for Facebook.
YouTube’s new livestream features — and particularly the one that pushes a creator’s fanbase to a brand’s channel — could make its solution more compelling.
“People come to YouTube every day to make decisions about what to buy, and 87% of viewers say that when they’re shopping or browsing on YouTube, they feel like they can make a faster decision about what to purchase because of all the information that we have in videos,” said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, speaking to the audience at the Brandcast live event last night. “We have so much shopping activity that is already happening on YouTube, so we are making it even easier for viewers to discover and to buy,” she said.
IROKO co-founder Bastian Gotter raises $3.2M seed for new venture, Bamba – TechCrunch
In 2010, Bastian Gotter invested up to $200,000 into IROKOtv, an African video-on-demand company Jason Njoku, his friend and co-founder, launched in Lagos, Nigeria.
For the next couple of years, Gotter, as CFO, was instrumental in turning IROKO — after raising over $30 million from VCs, including Tiger Global — into a household name in Nigeria’s entertainment and tech scenes.
Gotter left the media company in 2017, an exit that afforded him the chance to take up angel investing full-time and pursue new projects. Gotter has cut checks in Paystack, Flutterwave and betPawa and co-runs Spark, an investment vehicle he launched with Njoku.
In 2018, he started a pre-school chain based in the U.K. and South Africa. Two years later, he became part of the founding team of Kenyan-based fintech PawaPay, whose API connects up to 25 telecom operators’ mobile money systems and allows merchants from 10 countries to receive and send payments between mobile money accounts.
Gotter is an investor and board member in PawaPay, roles that can be active and passive depending on who’s involved. For Gotter, it was more of the latter, and so this January, he began to explore other opportunities in the mobile money payments space, specifically relating to small businesses. This led him to start Bamba, a mobile-based enterprise software for African micro-merchants, that has raised $3.2 million.
After spending some time in Kenya (where he was now used to paying via mobile money and rarely cash), he noticed that businesses relied heavily on manual bookkeeping and didn’t have software to record their cash and mobile money transactions.
“They also recorded stock components and had some form of customer relationship management on WhatsApp. It wasn’t a coherent picture and was just a big mess,” he said on a call to TechCrunch. “And that’s where we ultimately saw an opportunity to launch Bamba.”
Micro, small and medium-sized businesses make up 90% of all businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. And there are new upstarts that provide digital bookkeeping services for a minute number of them in West Africa, such as Sabi Cash, Bumpa, Kippa and OZÉ. Bamba is a matching solution for Kenya and surrounding East African markets, where these merchants accepted over $200 billion in mobile money payments last year.
The platform comprises an enterprise management software and an Android application that provides tools for micro-merchants to run their businesses. Its features include managing customers, recording stock levels and receiving and making payments.
“Merchants can record what cash and mobile money transactions they collect and their cash and mobile money payouts. And through that initial record keeping, we have an entry point into the business,” said Gotter, who also mentioned that Bamba wants to improve cash collection for merchants primarily done via USSD and M-Pesa pay bill numbers at point-of-sale.
“We have the inventory management components that tie in with how many and which goods are sold. Then the payments bit ultimately resulting in a point of sale type devices like Square or Yoco that lets you get a clearer picture of your business and your activities.”
Lack of credit is a thorn in merchants’ flesh globally; this holds more true in sub-Sahara Africa, where the credit gap for small businesses stands at over $300 billion. This is one prominent area bookkeeping digitization proves its utmost importance for merchants. And despite launching with various entry points into the market, startups in this space converge at that singular point. For Bamba, its solution, intersecting inventory, CRM and payments will allow it to provide merchants with cash advances against their future cash flow.
“These are businesses that have previously not been lent to as their credit score was insufficient to get the appropriate loans. But since we have a pretty accurate picture of our customers in terms of its cash and mobile money receivables, we can make accurate lending decisions to them in a way not done before,” the CEO stated.
Bamba is currently in stealth mode and is yet to launch. Gotter said the five-month-old startup is testing its platform with 30 merchants. Its revenue will come from two streams: a small payment fee paid by merchants and interests from its lending/cash advance product.
“We’re very deep in the research phase and quick iteration cycle to figure out the initial product we want to launch at a greater scale in 12 markets,” said the CEO who founded Bamba with Martin Schramm in January.
This seed funding is integral to speeding up this process of acquiring more users and scaling the engineering team behind the product. Berlin and San Francisco-based 468 Capital led the round, while Presight Ventures and Jigsaw VC participated alongside angel investors such as Laurin Hainy of FairMoney and Leonard Stiegeler of Pulse.
Ludwig Ensthaler, a partner at 468 Capital, in a statement, highlighted why his firm backed the Kenyan-based startup. He said the investment opportunities in enterprise software focused on African small businesses are largely untapped, and Bamba “is well placed with a great product and a solid founder to build a category-defining company.”
Apple reportedly testing E Ink outer display for upcoming foldable – TechCrunch
Ming-Chi Kuo is one of a handful of Apple analysts whose reports always warrant a second look, regardless of how strange they might seem at first blush. We’ve heard plenty of reports that the company is testing its own version of a foldable device, in its customary style of being fashionably late to the party, while also being the best dressed there.
It stands to reason that the company is experimenting with all sorts of takes on the form factor. While companies like Samsung and Huawei have made great strides since the first generation of foldable devices, one can certainly make the argument that no one has perfectly cracked the code just yet. The screen technology has improved a good bit in recent years — and so, too, has E Ink technology.
“Apple is testing E Ink’s Electronic Paper Display (EPD) for future foldable device’s cover screen & tablet-like applications,” Kuo reported on Twitter earlier today. “The color EPD has the potential to become a mainstream solution for foldable devices’ must-have cover/second screen thanks to its excellent power-saving.”
The last part is undeniable. One of E Ink’s biggest selling points is power saving. It’s a key part of the reason your Kindle’s battery life is rated in weeks, instead of hours. But the technology has traditionally had numerous drawbacks that have hampered mainstream adoption outside of a few select categories like e-readers.
Recent generations of E Ink’s electronic paper have added color and sped up the notoriously slow refresh rate and responsiveness. One imagines that there’s still a ways to go before Apple adopts such technology, even for a secondary, external display. Though, with the first of the company’s foldables rumored for a 2025 release (at earliest), perhaps that leaves enough time for the electronic paper technology to get up to speed.
As ever, one must take all of the above with a few grains of salt. It’s a long timeline, and even if the reports prove out, there’s a big gulf between testing and releasing. It’s also worth noting that these sorts of rumors have existed for nearly as long as the iPhone has. So, short term, maybe it’s best to focus on more attainable rumors like a USB-C iPhone.
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