Apple Starting To Reject Apps That Use Cookies To Track Users


No, not that kind of cookie.

Apple has been historically fickle about how it lets marketers and developers track iOS users through apps downloaded from the App Store. After all of the privacy concerns were raised about the UDID device identifier back in 2011, a better solution never presented itself.

Apple eventually introduced its own Advertising Identifier for iOS device tracking purposes, but marketers still favored the unique, permanent nature of the UDID. The UDID worked so well because it was a device-specific identifier that could never be changed. Athough developers were technically banned from using the UDID to track iOS devices more than a year ago, many, many apps still use the deprecated method today.

Apple is reportedly starting to reject apps that use web cookies to track user activity in iOS. Could this mean a reinvigorated push towards the Advertising Identifier again?

According to TechCrunch:

Mobile app developers using a technology called “cookie tracking” (sometimes called “Safari flip-flop” or “HTML5 first party cookies”) are starting to have their apps rejected by Apple’s App Review team, we’ve heard from a few different industry sources.

While it’s not the same as cracking down on the UDID, this behavior shows that Apple is starting to get more serious about enforcing its device tracking policies.

When the UDID was banned, mobile app tracking fragmented into all kinds of different methods. Cookie tracking is just one example. Eventually, Apple wants everyone to be using its own Advertising Identifier.

  • robert_walter

    The sooner Apple completes this task the better. Apple has the opportunity to improve its brand by increasing security and privacy.

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About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a journalist and co-host of The CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Follow him on Twitter.

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