What you need to know
- Sign in with Apple will be required in many apps as of June 30.
- Any app offering third-party login-services like Google and Facebook must include Apple's alternative.
- But AnyList won't. And it's even removing the option to use Facebook, too.
As of June 30, Apple requires all apps that offer third-party sign-in services, like Google and Facebook, must also offer the option of Sign in with Apple, too. But in a lengthy blog post, the developers of grocery list app AnyList have announced that it won't be getting the feature. And what's more, it's killing support for Facebook's sign-in service, too. Why? They're glad you asked!
The answer to that simple question comes in a lengthy blog post that picks apart Sign in with Apple and, indeed, most other third-party sign-in solutions. Some of the reasons are valid as well, although some come down to developer time and effort requirements that perhaps aren't available. More on that in a moment.
A couple of the problems outlined seem to stem from the fact that AnyList uses email addresses to differentiate accounts and Apple offers users the chance to obfuscate them. Which is a privacy thing, of course. But it'll complicate things for AnyList.
Another issue is Sign in with Apple's "Hide My Email" feature. With this feature, if you create an account with us, Apple will generate a special email address just for that account. So rather than your email address being email@example.com, we will see your email address as something like firstname.lastname@example.org. While this is an intriguing idea that provides a measure of privacy, in practice it creates numerous support and user experience headaches. Here are a few:
Right. Here goes.
If a customer contacts us asking for support, and we need to look up something in their account, typically we can just ask them for the email address on their account. But with "Hide My Email" that wouldn't be easily possible, because the customer would have to figure out the privaterelay.appleid.com email address used for their account.
This, I find interesting. I don't know anything about how the AnyList back end works – obviously enough! – but if this is indeed the case then that's a pretty big flaw with Sign in with Apple. I'd assumed there was some kind of identifier that could be used to associate people with their accounts that could get around this – especially for developers. Devs, is there not? Anyway, moving on.
Furthermore, if there are platforms where AnyList doesn't support Sign in with Apple, like Android, and someone wants to log into their account, they'd have to know their privaterelay.appleid.com email address. (And that certainly won't be easy to find if you no longer have an iOS device.) And then they'd have to create a password with us, since they wouldn't be able to sign in using Sign in with Apple.
There is, of course, support for Sign in with Apple on Android and Apple has that information in its developer kit. And as 9to5Mac points out, the implementation is very similar to that of the web. But the difficulty in getting hold of accounts if a user ditches iOS is a possible issue, although they can still sign into their Apple ID on the web, presumably.
Finally, for a service like AnyList, which is heavily focused on sharing lists with other people, the "Hide My Email" option greatly complicates collaboration. Typically, customers share a list by typing in the email address of the person they want to share with. If that person already has an account, the list is instantly shared. But with the "Hide My Email" option, your spouse or friends obviously won't know your privaterelay.appleid.com email address, so when they enter your email address,
Again, that's true. But there are other ways to link accounts and such than people sharing email addresses like it's 1999. Could one of those be implemented? And this is the point I mentioned I'd get back to earlier.
I get the impression that there's a lot of frustration behind this long blog post from AnyList's developers and honestly, much of it is justified – especially if Apple doesn't have the back end support I mentioned earlier. But there are ways around some of the limitations as well. Should AnyList need to follow them? No. And it won't be doing because it's pulling support for Facebook. Today's rule change won't impact Anylist whatsoever. So, really, what's this all about?
Sign in with Apple was announced during WWDC back in June of 2019. We're now a whole year on and Sign in with Apple shouldn't be a surprise to any developer at this point. The developers of AnyList are too good for this to have crept up on them.
I'm not a developer and I've never played one on TV – though I would if asked! – and I don't know how things at AnyList work. But it just seems to me that Sign in with Apple doesn't fit the infrastructure and mechanisms in place for AnyList and that's fine. It would likely take plenty of work to get things to a place where supporting Sign in with Apple is feasible and that isn't something they're willing or able to do which, again, is fine.
I just don't know where the blog post – or the need to go on the offensive – came from.
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