Single sign-in can be super convenient — instead of creating a new username and password for each app and website you visit, just press a button to log in with your Google or Facebook account instead. And today, Apple announced its own, potentially even more attractive single sign-in scheme: one that doesn’t turn data about your logins into fodder for your Facebook and Google advertising profiles.
But Apple doesn’t seem to be content just selling its single sign-on as a convenient, pro-privacy option. As iOS developer Ben Sandofsky spotted today, the company has unilaterally decided that if any app offers Google, Facebook, or other third-party sign-in options, it’ll need to offer Apple’s sign-in too.
Wow. Apple sign-in support is mandatory? https://t.co/qen34RLGOW pic.twitter.com/gBhStE6HVN— Ben Sandofsky (@sandofsky) June 3, 2019
It’s right there at the tail end of a list of App Store Review Guidelines the company updated today.
On the one hand… of course! It’s Apple’s platform, and if Apple thinks developers should do something, that’s the company’s decision to make. Plus, there’s a genuine argument to be made that offering Apple single sign-in is doing the right thing by users — who will no doubt already be logged into their own iPhones and iPads, and are one thumbprint or glance away from adding an extra level of security to that sign-in with a biometric Touch ID or Face ID login.
It might be quicker, more secure, more convenient, and who are developers to say that users shouldn’t have an option that might be better and more private? (It plays right into Apple’s strategy, too: Apple wants to be the only tech company you trust.)
On the other hand, this is a terrifying example of the power Apple wields over developers. Apple just announced this feature, and now every developer that got comfy with Facebook, Google, etc. is going to have to add (and find space to add) a button and the underlying code at some undetermined point later this year, or else abandon single sign-in entirely, or risk their livelihood getting cut off?
Examples like these are exactly why we recently asked: Can Apple can be trusted with the App Store?
Apple didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
Disclosure: Sean Hollister’s wife is currently employed by Facebook.