Later this year, Apple plans to release new software updates, and the company just announced a preview of new child safety features that will be part of the updates.
The preview includes a Communication Safety feature, Photo Scanning for Child Sexual Abuse Material, and an Expanded Child Sexual Abuse Material Guidance in Siri and Search.
With the new Communication Safety feature, children and parents will be warned at the time of receiving or sending sexually explicit photos. Such photos will be identified through on-device machine learning, which will also blur the images. For instance, if a child receives a sexually explicit photo in the Messages app, an alert will notify them that the photo may contain private body parts and may be hurtful. This feature will be part of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey for accounts set up as families in iCloud, according to Apple.
The Photo Scanning for Child Sexual Abuse Material is Apple’s new technology that is designed to detect Child Sexual Abuse Material images stored in iCloud photos. The technology will help report these images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that works in partnership with US law enforcement agencies. Apple said that it will further use the hashing technology, NeuralHash, to convert the detected images to unique numbers specific to the images, so as to protect the privacy of users.
Finally, Apple will expand the Child Sexual Abuse Material Guidance to Siri and Spotlight Search in the form of additional helpful resources for the safety of children. For instance, if a user asks Siri how to report child exploitation, Siri will provide resources for where and how to file a report. This feature will be part of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey, as confirmed by Apple.
Apple’s new Child Safety features will be rolled out to users in the US initially and will eventually be available in other countries.