Sign In with Apple coming to every iPhone app: The new privacy login tool explained

Apple dug deeper into privacy at its annual WWDC event on Monday, announcing a new tool called Sign In with Apple.

Along with dark mode and new camera features, Sign In is part of iOS 13, which will comes to iPhones ($1,000 at Amazon) this fall. The security tool uses your iOS device to verify your credentials, which Apple says will keep you from being tracked online.

Sign In comes at a time when security and privacy are hot button issues. Facebook is just one company at the heart of an ongoing security debate that's gripped lawmakers and internet users alike. Most recently, clinical laboratory Quest Diagnostics experienced a breach that exposed the data of nearly 12 million patients. In January, the internet saw one of the largest public data breaches after more than 87 gigabytes of personal information leaked online.

By offering iPhone users two secure ways to log in to online apps and services, Apple is signalling a commitment to privacy that the company has long made a mantra. (Apple Card, its digital credit card, is another example.)

Here's everything we know about how Sign In works. We'll continue to update this story as we learn more.

How does Sign In work?

Sign In is a tool that uses your Apple ID as a credential to sign into websites and apps, instead of typing in your email address. With compatible apps, you'll see an option to either tap "Sign In with Apple" or enter your email -- that's after you verify your identity with Face ID for an iPhone X ($625 at Walmart) phone or by tapping 3D Touch with your fingerprint on the iPhone 8 ($660 at Walmart) or earlier.

The tool uses your iOS device to verify your credentials, instead of social account logins, which could make you vulnerable to being tracked online.

Will Apple's login option appear in all my apps?

Yes. Apple's terms for developers make that clear:

What if I want to use an email address instead?

If you'd rather, you can choose to hide your email address and have Apple create a random one for you. You can either choose to share your real one or the dummy email. The app or website will get the placeholder email and any messages will be forwarded to your real email address, so your identity is protected.

You'll also have a unique random email for each app or website, so when you don't want to hear from one of them, just disable the email.

Do I need an iCloud account or just an Apple ID?

We know you need an Apple ID at the very least, and we've asked Apple for clarification on any other requirements.

Is Sign In just for the iPhone?

During WWDC, Apple only demonstrated the tool on an iPhone. It isn't clear at this time if the tool will also work with  on iPad or Mac. Since you can download apps on iPad and Mac, it's possible that, if the tool isn't included already, it could be added later. We've asked Apple for clarification.

How is this different than signing in with Facebook or Google?

Sign In is visually similar to the icons that let you sign into an app or website with Google or Facebook. Signing in with Facebook or Google might seem easier, but a lot of your personal information is attached to them like nicknames, your hometown, your birthday and more. This information might seem trite at face value, but some of that information is prime security question fodder for your bank account, for example. Apple said it doesn't use the tool to profile users or their app activity.

Google and Facebook didn't respond to a request for comment.

Sign In also gives you more control over the permissions apps and websites have access to. You can pick and choose which apps have to ask your permission each time it requests your location data from Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It's handy if you're trying out a new app or you don't plan on using an app often, for example.

When can I start using Sign In?

The new tool will be available, at least on iPhone, after iOS 13 launches this fall (likely September alongside the rumored iPhone 11). For now, the new OS is only available in beta to developers. The public beta is coming in July.