Apple instructs its developers to implement other ways to track user behavior and collect data and not use the Unique Device Identifier in iOS 5.
has told software developers to stop using the unique identifier that would
allow companies to track users and their behavior when developing iPhone and
Apple Website for iOS developers said the use of the Unique Device Identifier
will be "deprecated" in iOS 5, TechCrunch
reported on Aug. 19. Apple just released iOS 5 beta 6 to developers, and the
final release is expected later in the year.
of an "alphanumeric string unique to each device based on various hardware
details" will be "deprecated" in iOS 5, Apple said on the developer
Website. Developers can still create their own unique identifiers for their
apps, Apple said. The app-specific mechanism would work like Web cookies.
use of the word "deprecated" rather than "discontinued" or "banned" is
intentional in this announcement. It indicates that Apple is discouraging the
practice of using the Unique Device Identifier without technically preventing
the capability will still exist in iOS 5 and can be used, Apple recommends that
developers avoid implementing the UDID as the "feature has been superseded
and may become unsupported in the future," according to the Website.
Deprecated features tend to stay in a few versions to support older devices as
well as to give developers time to remove the features from existing apps,
according to developers who spoke with eWEEK.
companies and advertiser networks rely on the 40-digit unique combination of
letters and numbers to find out what their users are doing on the devices
beyond the specific app. The UDID is specific to each Apple device and can be
used to gather saved user data as well.
change will impact how advertising networks, game networks and analytics firms
identify users. Advertising networks depend on the UDID to target users with
relevant ads and to track whether the user has already seen or clicked on an
may be responding to privacy
about how the data collected can be used to track user behavior
without their awareness or consent. Recently, the Wall
found that of the 101 popular iPhone apps and Android apps
it tested, 56 transmitted the phone's unique device ID to other companies
without the users' knowledge.
revelation prompted at least two lawsuits from Apple consumers, accusing the
company of letting advertising networks track users. The UDID "allows the
downloaded applications access to the user's browsing history each time the
user clicks on an advertisement or application appearing on their mobile
device," said court documents file for one of the suits.
change may make it more difficult for app developers to market their programs
to advertisers and other companies that rely on data gathered via UDID. With
apps moving away from UDID, it will be harder for developers to persuade
advertisers to sponsor the app, which may also have an impact on pricing. If
the advertiser dollars dry up, developers may have no choice but to raise their
can download their own cookies and force users to register an account. It may
be possible to use iCloud and its Documents and Data feature to story key
values in the cloud that would be used for tracking. GameCenter also allows
third-party apps to associate a user with a specific state within a game; the
mechanism might be adapted for apps just as well.