Apple CEO Tim Cook dinner, Jony Ive, Laurene Powell Jobs within the panel dialogue

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks onstage during day two of Vox Media’s Code Conference 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook said Wednesday that Apple isn’t putting much effort into improving the texting experience between iPhones and Android devices because its users haven’t asked for it.

“I don’t hear our users asking that we’re putting a lot of energy into this on this front,” Cook said in response to an audience question at Vox Media’s Code conference in Beverly Hills, California. “I would like to convert you to iPhone.”

The answer comes less than a month after Google launched an advertising campaign aimed at putting pressure on Apple.

Currently, texts between iPhones use iMessage, which offers a much smoother experience than when an Android device sends a text message to an iPhone, where text messages appear as green bubbles. Google wants Apple to introduce RCS, a type of messaging intended as a next-generation SMS replacement with encryption and other modern features.

The questioner squeezed Cook and said he couldn’t send videos to his mother because of texting restrictions.

“Get your mom an iPhone,” Cook said.

Privacy Push goes back to Steve Jobs

Cook was joined by former Apple chief designer Jony Ive and Laurene Powell Jobs to discuss the Apple founder’s legacy and announce a new Steve Jobs archive and possible documentary.

Apple’s recent privacy push isn’t a new goal for the company — the thinking actually goes back to founder Steve Jobs, Cook said.

“Steve really embraced the importance of privacy in business in the early days and has only grown since then,” Cook said.

Cook quoted a 2010 paper by Jobs as saying that privacy means that users consent to the sharing of their data. “Privacy means people know what they are signing up for, in plain English and repeated. That’s what it means,” Jobs said in the talk, cited by Cook.

Cook’s comments come as the company’s privacy push has been increasingly criticized as self-serving as the company rolled out new privacy features that make measuring online advertising more difficult as Apple reportedly plans to grow its advertising business and introduce new ad units.

That’s the same philosophy behind App Tracking Transparency, a feature launched in 2021 that rocked the online advertising industry. iPhone owners are asked before providing apps with a unique device identification number at startup – and most iPhone owners choose not to, preventing online advertisers from accurately tracking the performance of their ads.

Companies like Facebook parent Meta have branded the change anti-competitive. In February, Meta said it would cost $10 billion this year.

“We felt that people should own their data and make their own decisions,” Cook said Wednesday. “People should be empowered to make that decision in a really simple and straightforward way. Not buried somewhere 95 pages deep in a privacy policy.”

Cook argued that Apple follows stricter rules than advertisers and defended the company’s search ads.

“We never said digital advertising was a bad thing,” Cook said. “What’s not good is siphoning people’s data if they’re not doing it on an informed basis.”

Cook was asked if he sees Apple as a powerful company that has stepped in because regulators have failed to pass privacy laws.

“We’re not trying to be a regulator,” Cook said. “All we’re trying to do is give people the opportunity to make the decision for themselves.”

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