There are a lot of changes being made by Apple to iOS 5. Each new beta reveals a little more about the changes everyone can expect after iOS 5 is released to the public in a few months. There is one big change that Apple hasn’t said a lot about publicly and developers might be surprised by it.
Apple has notified developers via a recent update to iOS 5 documentation that they will be removing access to the unique device identifier (UDID) on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.
Although this probably doesn’t sound like much to most of you reading this it is very important. The UDID identifies users for a variety of reasons that include, but are not limited to: mobile ad tracking, gaming (scores, etc.), and just for identifying a device and later its user. This will be a big issue for developers who’re going to be forced to come up with their own way of uniquely identifying users. If you are privacy fanatic this is good for you, but developers will effectively lose all their historical data and they will just have to start collecting it all over again.
According to TechCrunch here is the language from the Apple Developer documentation:
Deprecated in iOS 5.0
An alphanumeric string unique to each device based on various hardware details. (read-only) (Deprecated in iOS 5.0. Instead, create a unique identifier specific to your app.)
We agree with TechCrunch that this looks like Apple’s response to privacy concerns or just a way to prevent them. That isn’t a bad thing. We know that many people aren’t all that excited about their UDIDs being used to target them for advertising. However, although Apple is removing UDID access from developers there isn’t any evidence that Apple won’t still be using it for Game Center, iAds, or other reasons.
So what do you say developers is this a big deal or isn’t it?