Apple’s newest big software feature may not be for you, but you can use it anyway.
The iPhone maker announced on Wednesday that iOS 16, iPad OS 16, and macOS Ventura would all include a new feature called Lockdown Mode. This is intended for what Apple calls a “very small” number of people that includes government figures, journalists, and so forth who have valuable data that needs extra protection. In other words, a majority of people reading this may never need to use it, but if you really care about data security, Lockdown Mode is worth knowing about.
When you turn on Lockdown Mode for any of your Apple devices later this year, it will block most attachment types in the Messages app, aside from images, as well as turning off link previews. Incoming FaceTime calls will be blocked unless you sent a request to the user on the other end ahead of time. And wired connections to any computers or accessories will also be disabled.
Apple also promised future updates to Lockdown Mode over time, so folks who need it will see it strengthened down the road. And if you’re hard up for cash, Apple is offering bounties of up to $2 million for anyone who finds faults with Lockdown Mode’s protections.
Again, this is something that a lot of Apple device owners will never use. Plenty of people will never even know it exists. But its existence is a testament to Apple’s ongoing push to be known as the best privacy protector in Big Tech. For example, just last year, social media companies like Snap and Meta reported that they had lost money because of an iPhone update that allowed users to turn off tracking across apps.
To put it another way, Apple is willing to hurt popular app makers financially and develop features for incomprehensibly tiny amounts of its user base in the name of privacy. Whether you believe Apple has your interests at heart or not, it’s certainly a good look, if nothing else.