Apple’s preview of iOS10 revealed something shocking: a lack of encryption on the kernel’s code.

Uttering the words “Apple” and “encryption” in the same sentence might raise a few eyebrows, especially in the wake of the now-famous legal battle involving Apple being compelled by a US court to develop a mechanism for breaking into an iPhone. Fortunately, the latest round of Apple encryption news is nowhere near as legally challenging or a threat to consumers’ privacy.


Apple unveiled a preview of the upcoming iOS10, and purposely left the kernel unencrypted. In this day and age of cybersecurity and threats to individual privacy at every turn, why would the company do such a thing? Because it doesn’t affect user data in the least, and apparently speeds up the processing within the phone.

Or so they say. Until now, the kernel’s code has been encrypted in previous versions, but that could have been the result of a standard practice policy of covering up anything that could be uncovered. In this case, Apple has stated that the kernel doesn’t contain user data, but rather affects things like how the device itself interacts with the camera, and other hardware-related issues. By not burying the code in encryption, the operating system’s developers have found that everything runs faster and cleaner.

A couple of outcomes have already been predicted. One is that this is a direct result of issues like the recent privacy battle against the government, and that the adoption of greater transparency will save the company a lot of headaches down the road. Another likely scenario is the idea that this is one way to take down the lucrative market in hunting out security flaws. There’s big money to be made in finding, sharing, selling, or holding for ransom information about weaknesses, especially where consumer privacy is concerned (due to the potential for resulting lawsuits). By taking away the incentive to go after the kernel’s code, Apple may have just struck a blow against hacking.