“Sign in with Apple” is the ultimate tool for ecosystem lock-in.
iMessage used to be the biggest method of locking people into Apple’s ecosystem, but this legitimately great privacy tool is a dark horse to ensure you never, ever, switch to android.
Global logins are an incredibly useful tool and are in some ways the OG of password managers. You remember one password (your Google or Facebook one), then you can get easy access to all of your favourite apps/services without ever having to remember them. Gone are the days of remembering your Netflix, Spotify, Dropbox, or Classpass passwords, simply hit a button and sign in with Google/Facebook. I’m sure an absolute tonne of people log into the majority of their services with this functionality (I know used to).
Initially, an Apple-powered version of this seems great. Why would you click ‘Sign in with Facebook’ or ‘Sign in with Google’, when you could now click ‘Sign in with Apple’. Keeping your data/login info with a privacy-centric company that won’t even give your email address to the app you’re signing into.
Apple hammer home in their keynote, calling out how these log in buttons often provide a whole lot less privacy than you realise.
However, it isn’t quite as sunshine and rainbows as it seems. ‘Sign in with Apple’ is basically giving Apple the key to every app/service on your phone. And giving that key to Apple is going to make leaving them near impossible.
Apple will be shackling your services to your Apple ID, so moving from iOS to Android will leave you with 3 pretty rubbish options:
Cancel and close every single app account (Spotify, Netflix, Strava, etc) that you’ve used ‘Sign in with Apple’ for, and then create a new account for each app. Thus, losing all your data, viewing history, follows, message, stats, playlists, etc. And this would suck. Especially if you have to do it for. Every. Single. App. On. Your. Phone.
Keep your Apple ID kicking, and use it to sign into all your Android apps. But this means you’ll have to hope that Android developers will integrate ‘Sign in with Apple’ into their apps. And this seems rather unlikely as it will appear very strange seeing a ‘Sign in with Apple’ button on you Google Pixel or Galaxy S20.
Enter the extremely painful and laborious process fo trying to remove Apple credentials from each app, and move them to a standard email and password. This is insanely hard to do with Facebook logins (have you ever tried to remove Facebook from your Spotify account? It’s a nightmare), and I imagine it will be even harder with Apple — mainly as there isn’t a real email associated with your account.
From the perspective of Apple this is crazy smart. Not only are they making it really hard for people to break out of their own services (iMessage, iCloud photos, etc), they’ll now be holding the 100’s of third-party apps people use on their phones as ransom.
Oh, and you’ll 100% be seeing ‘Sign in with Apple’ option very soon as Apple will force developers to show this option if they use other social sign-in options.
This is from Apples Developer guidelines — “Sign In with Apple will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in.”(!)
My suggestion. Don’t use ‘Sign in with Apple’. Instead, use a password manager like 1Password, and have 2 email addresses* — one for services you care about, and one for services you don’t.
A password manager means you don’t have to remember any passwords, can log into any service within a few taps, and ensures you aren’t locked into Apple, Google, or Facebook. And having 2 emails keeps your inbox clean.
Or just fully commit to the Apple ecosystem (it certainly has its perks), and just hope you never, ever, want to leave 🍎
*another tip with emails is to simply add a +spam into your email address like email@example.com to create accounts for things you don’t ever want emails from, then have a filter that pushes that straight to your archive.