Thursday, November 29, 2012

Private browsing vs iCloud Tabs convenience trade-off (iCloud Tabs)

"Private browsing" sounds like a good thing, right? You don't have to be surfing for bad stuff, just have a reasonable wish for less profiling of your interests with the associated targeted advertising.

In iOS 6 on iPhone and iPad you can enter the Settings area; find the Safari section; and turn Private Browsing to 'On.' In OS X Mountain Lion open Safari and select "Private Browsing..." from the Safari menu.

But wait, the Safari browser on iPad and in OS X Mountain Lion has a cute cloud button a little to the left of the browser's address bar. (Get to the the iCloud Tabs section on your iPhone from within the Bookmarks button at the bottom of the Safari browser.) This great feature will let you see the browser tabs open on your other devices.

Find a great article on the iPhone; and continue reading on the bigger screen of the iPad or Mac.

The trouble is, you can't have both Private Browsing and iCloud Tabs. It feels a little counter-intuitive as I'm often sitting with the iPhone and iPad or Mac within sight and reach of each other.  But for iCloud Tabs to work, every web page I open is sync'd via Apple's servers, not directly between my devices. So my browsing is no longer 'Private' because Apple's iCloud servers are storing my browsing patterns, at least for as long as the tabs are open, and for who knows how much longer after that?

If the UK Communications Data Bill comes into force then all of this, along with an awful lot more, will be stored by law and available easily to a very wide range of organisations. Hmmm
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