You probably heard that last week, Apple announced a series of new products at its Worldwide Developer Conference. Among them was a brand-new operating system for your iPhone, iOS 13, packed with features that make your iPhone even better. However, there's one feature, in particular, that isn't just really cool, but that also actually says everything you need to know about what Apple thinks about its customers.

As a result, even though I've already talked about the iOS updates, this one deserves a little extra attention. Apple made a big deal about a lot of privacy updates in iOS 13, so it might have been easy to miss this one, but today this popped up on my iPhone XR running the beta version.

Now, the fact that the Apple Store app was following me didn't come as a surprise--I had used it recently, and when I did, it even asked me for permission.

Think about that for a minute. My iPhone, a device made by Apple, was letting me know that the Apple Store app, which is also made by Apple, was using my location. It even shows me a map, letting me see exactly where it's been tracking me. 

The app needs my location to provide me the best experience since, obviously, it would be helpful to know where I am when it provides me with information about stores and product availability. That's true of a lot of apps. 

Food-delivery apps need to know where you are to make sure your Chipotle bowl ends up at the right place. Mapping software obviously provides you a better experience if it can give you directions based on your starting point.

Apple treats your data differently.

The difference is that Apple is creating a system that uses your personal information--like where you are physically located--with your permission when it's essential to providing the best user experience, but not otherwise. 

If an app continues to track your location because you enabled that capability, Apple reminds you. It even asks you if you want to let the app continue.

I don't think it requires a whole lot of explanation to see the difference between Apple and its big-tech rivals with regard to how it treats your personal information.

In fact, during the keynote presentation, Apple SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi took a not-so-veiled swipe at Google, saying, "We believe privacy is a fundamental human right."

Not only do both Facebook and Google crave your personal information, because that's basically their entire business model, but they also have a history of making it hard to find out exactly what they track and why. 

Google and Facebook should do the same.

Can you imagine a Google Pixel 3 reminding you that Google is keeping tabs on where you've been, what you searched for, the last meal you ordered, and what apps and websites you've used?

Can you imagine Facebook greeting you when you log on with a message that says, "Hey, we've been keeping track of what you've been up to since you left! Hope you enjoyed visiting that website about that rash on your leg. Click here to order some Benedryl." 

It's never going to happen because if it did, you'd probably set your phone on fire--which would probably just result in ads for fire extinguishers. 

Apple believes that if you're upfront about what information you need to provide a service (and nothing more), you earn the trust of your customers, which happens to be a valuable lesson for every business. It also happens to make a lot of money without monetizing its users' private information, and it does it in a way that's absolutely clear.

On the other hand, Facebook and Google may offer their primary services for free, but there's a huge cost to both in terms of your privacy and personal information.

You might pay a lot of money for Apple's devices, but you know exactly what the cost is. That's the biggest difference between Apple and its tech rivals, and it demonstrates everything you should know about what each thinks about its customers.

Published on: Jun 11, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.