apple-inc-508812_640 (1)Apple's latest update to its flagship operating system, Mac OS X, is live and has been downloaded and installed on Mac computers everywhere. Mac OS X: Yosemite offers a wide range of changes to the OS in both its design and functionality, as well as many changes under its hood to offer better performance and faster processing times. While users everywhere are celebrating these changes and overall they are fitting for the next evolution of its software, some users have found a few new "features" that aren't necessarily something to celebrate.

New Data Collection
While many have long accepted that a lot of the things you do on your computer, and especially on the Internet, cannot be considered private, many have also long believed that what you do on your specific computer stays on your computer. However, with Yosemite, Apple has made several changes that are pushing data collection limits further than they ever have before and, in the process, have alienated many in their user base who have privacy concerns when it comes to computing. In addition to the information being sent to Apple, the information apparently also gets sent to Microsoft's Bing search engine as well, thus allowing two companies access to your searches.

Spotlight Search
At the heart of the controversy is Apple's proprietary search function in Mac OS X known as Spotlight. It seems every time you perform a search using Spotlight, this information is getting transmitted back to Apple. In addition to the information being sent to Apple, the information apparently also gets sent to Microsoft's Bing search engine as well. That doesn’t sound good.

“This is a very disappointing move for Apple,” said Runa Sandvik, a privacy-focused developer for the Freedom of the Press Foundation and a former developer for the anonymity software Tor. Indeed much of Apple’s user base has not been overly excited to learn that their search habits on their personal computers are now being mined by Apple. “For Apple to automatically learn about your location and your search terms when you’re using your computer normally isn’t something a lot of people would approve of if they knew about it,” Sandvik says.

Apple Attempts Explanation
In response to criticism from users and privacy advocates across the country, Apple has claimed that the main reason for this data collection is to enhance Spotlight's search results so your searches not only retrieve information on your local computer but also information from other sources like the Internet, the Mac App Store and iTunes. Hmm, sounds like plenty of benefit for Apple, not so much for the consumer.

How To Disable the "Feature"
While this feature may be on by default, Apple should be given credit for making it easy to turn off. In Mac OS X’s System Preferences, the functions can be found under “Spotlight” and then “Search Results.” From there you need to disable “Spotlight Suggestions,” “Bookmarks and History,” and “Bing Web Searches.” While some companies make it difficult to turn off their snooping features, Apple has at least made it easy for anyone to turn off the feature if they would prefer that Microsoft and Google didn't know what they were searching for.

Apple is not the first company to attempt to collect more and more private and sensitive data from users' machines. Microsoft recently received criticism for the sweeping privacy limitations it included with the developer preview of Windows 10. What is shocking is that Apple seems to be taking cues from other companies and now has become much like the rest, seeking to learn as much as it can about us without even asking permission.