New social features will compete more with Facebook

Starting this fall, the decade-long feud between Apple and Facebook will start a new chapter. And this part of the story has Apple invading Facebook territory like never before.

On Monday, Apple revealed several new social features coming to iPhones and iPads with the release of iOS 15 this fall.

Soon, iPhone users will be able to make FaceTime video calls with Android and Windows users for the first time. They will also be able to use a new feature called SharePlay, which allows you to have a FaceTime call and watch a movie in real time, listen to music or share your screen with your contacts. IMessage is also getting a boost, with new features that make it easy to share web links, photos, Apple Music tracks, and Apple News articles with your contacts.

In short, Apple is laying the groundwork for a set of social features designed to allow you to do much of what you would normally do on Instagram and Facebook, only with more emphasis on privacy. Think of it as a diluted social network without all the bloat and annoying stuff found in other apps.

It’s the kind of thing that will drive Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg absolutely crazy.

Zuckerberg has already said that he considers Apple a major competitor, in large part because of apps like FaceTime and iMessage that come pre-installed on the more than 1 billion Apple devices in use around the world.

On top of that, Facebook late last year started a public relations and advertising blitz against Apple over a new iOS privacy feature that limits the way companies like Facebook can use your personal data to send you targeted ads. (Facebook gets most of its money from ads, and it needs that targeting data for its ads to be effective.)

It’s no coincidence that Zuckerberg hit the 30% fee that Apple charges many app makers on the iPhone just hours before Apple’s big event on Monday.

Apple’s new social features in iOS 15 will also arrive long before Zuckerberg can complete Facebook’s turn to privacy, which he announced more than two years ago. In Zuckerberg’s view, there will be two types of social sharing on the Internet in the future: private communication, such as messaging on Facebook applications such as WhatsApp and Messenger, and public communication, such as posts on Instagram or the main Facebook service.

Apple’s announcements on Monday showed that you don’t need Facebook for many of the things you already do on Facebook. Why log into Facebook or Instagram and give away personal data when you can share photos, messages, and videos just as easily on iOS 15?

If Zuckerberg was right, and there will be a large swath of communication taking place in a “privacy-centric” version of the Internet, Apple has largely surpassed Facebook in that future.

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