Apple expanding user privacy, will prevent iOS apps from seeing other installed apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 2015
As part of a continued focus on protecting user privacy, Apple is reportedly planning to change a policy on third-party applications and prevent them from finding out what other apps are installed on an iPhone or iPad.




Once the changes are in place, developers will no longer be able to access app download data for advertising purposes, according to Amir Efrati of The Information. Currently, major apps like Facebook and Twitter access this data, and can use it to better target advertisements toward its users.

The change will apparently take effect with iOS 9, which is scheduled to launch for free this fall. The change was formally documented by the company during an app privacy session held at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month.

In recent years, Apple has made an effort to convey to consumers that their privacy is of the utmost importance to the company. That stands in contrast to companies like Google and Facebook, which collect user data in order to sell advertisements.




In a letter published last fall, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook made it clear that his company is in the business of selling products, not harvesting consumer data.

"Security and privacy are fundamental to the design of all our hardware, software, and services, including iCloud and new services like Apple Pay," Cook said.

Just last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded Apple a perfect score in its annual "Who has your back?" report, rating tech companies on their efforts to secure consumer data against government snooping. Apple's five-star rating beat out four stars for Facebook, three for Google, and three for Amazon.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    Hadn't Twitter just announced their app would be trying to see what else you had on your phone?

    Good move by Apple, but surprising they hadn't done this already.
  • Reply 2 of 15
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,808member
    Thank you Apple. I can trust you more than my own Government. IOS pays deep attention to user privacy unlike android which acts like prostitute who calls it open and allow any app can do anything on your smartphone and later users finds they are screwed.
  • Reply 3 of 15
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Hadn't Twitter just announced their app would be trying to see what else you had on your phone?

    Yikes!! Very creepy.
  • Reply 4 of 15
    red oakred oak Posts: 634member

    Google Android is a cesspool when it comes to this.   All the system type apps in the Top 100 (keyboards, launchers, browsers) all read your device to see what you have installed.  And then target new apps to you based on that info  

     

    It is disgusting 

  • Reply 5 of 15
    red oak wrote: »
    Google Android is a cesspool when it comes to this.   All the system type apps in the Top 100 (keyboards, launchers, browsers) all read your device to see what you have installed.  And then target new apps to you based on that info  

    It is disgusting 

    Now you've done it. You mentioned the magic G word. Prepare for the usual suspects to come to its defense.
  • Reply 6 of 15
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    So is this going to stop us being targeted with ads or are we going to be targeted with even more ads and crappier ones because they know nothing about our interests. I'm all for privacy but so long as people don't want to pay for things ads won't be going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Reply 7 of 15

    I had no idea the iPhone allowed apps to be aware of other installed apps!  That never should have been allowed in the first place, what idiot set it up?  I'm so glad Apple is finally taking action on this!  And I *knew* there was a good reason I never installed either FB or twatter on my phone!

  • Reply 8 of 15
    Great idea, but how will this work with Audio Unit plug ins? The idea being that I can use an effect from one App inside another App. In order for this to work you kind of need to know what Apps are installed. Unless Apps can publish their "units" without the other App knowing which App it came from (just shows you a list of available units to pick from). Not that this will be an issue since most music production Apps aren't littered with ads, and are usually priced a lot higher than other Apps.


    One has to wonder if one of these days people are going to wake up and realize just how much of their information is being mined, and suddenly revolt against companies collecting it. This is the type of change in consumer behavior that could be disastrous for someone like Google.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    Hadn't Twitter just announced their app would be trying to see what else you had on your phone?



    Good move by Apple, but surprising they hadn't done this already.



    When Twitter announced it would be doing this, I immediately turned nearly every Twitter option off.

     

    The canOpenURL was developed by Apple to enable developers to launch other apps for data sharing not app data collection. Twitter, Facebook and possibly others chose to use the capability to feed their data collection.

     

     

    I agree with you this is a good move by Apple to close a loophole in iOS.

  • Reply 10 of 15
    agramonteagramonte Posts: 345member

    Wonder if iOS 9 will also come with a mail in coupon for a Tin Foil hat.

  • Reply 11 of 15
    davemcm76davemcm76 Posts: 265member
    I think this should detail the crux of this change.... [URL=https://developer.apple.com/videos/wwdc/2015/?id=509]Seamless linking to Your App[/URL] session from WWDC...
  • Reply 12 of 15
    tokyojimutokyojimu Posts: 392member
    I don't understand this obsession with advertising privacy. Given that I'm going to be shown ads no matter what, I'd much rather see those targeted to my interests instead of those for feminine hygiene products.
  • Reply 13 of 15
    normmnormm Posts: 545member
    I can see the use of asking the user for permission to see other apps, but disallowing it completely seems like a mistake. This means, for example, no recommendation apps based on what you already use.

    Apple is trying to make privacy distinctions black and white, but they really aren't. Google doesn't actually tell third parties your private information -- they use it to present relevant ads to you. As AI becomes the interface, knowing more about you on big powerful servers can provide a better experience -- including fewer irrelevant ads and more ad-supported services.
  • Reply 14 of 15
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member

    They are not disabling it completely. They are just making it that any URLs you intend to try at runtime have to be declared in your app's main config file (Info.plist). So apps that are using canOpenURL as intended, to hand off documents to a few other related apps, will still be able to do so. But apps that have a massive list of thousands of URL schemes in their app, and are just trying them all to see what you have installed, well to keep doing that they will also have to list them all in their Info.plist, and then it will be super obvious to the App Store reviewer what they are up to.

  • Reply 15 of 15
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,453member
    The only thing Google is protecting is other companies from learning what Google knows about you. Google knows everything and protects it at all cost so others outside google do not know what they know about you. It selfservice protection of your personal information, they are not doing becuase they think it is important to protect your privacy.
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