Groupon Adopts UDID Alternative That Could Become Standard For Developers


AppRedeem is hoping iOS devs will follow Groupon's lead and adopt its UDID alternative.
AppRedeem is hoping iOS devs will follow Groupon's lead and adopt its UDID alternative.

Just six months after announcing that developers must stop accessing a device’s unique device identifier (UDID) within their iOS apps, Apple put its rule into practice last week amid increasing privacy concerns surrounding mobile apps. Any app submitted for App Store approval will soon be rejected if its attempts to access a UDID, and developers need an alternative.

That alternative could come from AppRedeem, a mobile advertising platform for app discovery, branding and monetization, which has developed a system called Organizational Specific Device Identifier, or “ODID,” already being used by Groupon.

AppRedeem’s co-founder and CEO Sheffield Nolan has been speaking to TechCrunch about ODID, which was developed after the company toyed with a number of other options that didn’t work out. Here’s how it works:

Over-simplifying, an ODID is created by appending a hash of the MAC address to an organization’s “secret key” to create the payload, and then applying a hash wrapper to the payload. Furthermore, the ODID is sandboxed within the specific organization that created it, and the device’s Mac address is used as the seed for the ODID.

There is no way to derive a device’s MAC address from the ODID, TechCrunch reports, because the MAC address is simply a seed. So this system eliminates the privacy concerns currently surrounding UDIDs, while providing developers with exactly what they need: A unique identifier that does not change every time a user restores their device.

Yesterday, AppRedeem began rolling out an update to its SDK with ODID support, and it’ll be available to all customers by this weekend. It’s also sharing the steps developers must take to create an ODID.

Overall, over half of the top 100 grossing apps use AppRedeem’s service, so the company had good reason to come up with an alternative to UDIDs. Some of its advertisers include Groupon, Zynga, Disney, TinyCo, Gameloft, Priceline, Glu, Addmirred, AOL, and Smule. One of which, Groupon, is already using ODIDs.

Groupon is the first of its advertisers to begin using the startup’s UDID-free SDK, as they were in a rush to realize full compliance with Apple, and wanted to switch as soon possible.

But UDIDs aren’t just used by advertisers; they’re used by any developers wishing to track usage, downloads, clicks, and more. And there are lots of these, according to TechCrunch, so Apple’s decision to deprecate UDIDs is going to have an affect on the entire industry.

Most developers have been scrambling to find a solution since the new began circulating last week, but no one’s really been taking the lead, according to Nolan. His team is now pushing for ODIDs to become the replacement to UDIDs “in such a way that doesn’t just solve the problem for their own clients, but offers a model for all businesses looking for better privacy tools for their users.”

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  • mobilemike

    The jury is still out on using any type of Fingerprinting & MAC Addresses as well. There is an alternative out there that is browser cookie based that you should also check out “Track-Beyond-Install” by GET IT Mobile.

    Its completely browser cookie-based and does not use any device identifying information such as UDID or MAC addresses and like web cookies mobile users have complete control. It does not require the installation of yet another full SDK either, just a few lines of code and a 1x browser call on initial app install/load. This can be used to centrally track installs and usage events from any app marketing campaign, channel or platform; on-device, online or offline.

    In full disclosure, yes I work for GET IT Mobile – but I thought this information might be pretty timely and useful as the debate over mobile app install tracking is heating up.