Google pulls ‘research’ iOS app and issues apology to Apple

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Google research app
Google rewards the family that willing shares its data.
Screenshot: Google/YouTube

Apple may have another tech giant to deal with over an iOS app that bypasses the App Store and Cupertino’s strict developer terms.

Until late today, Google ran a research app that monitored and analyzed internet usage and enticed users with rewards to download the app directly from Google with a developer’s code and registration.

Late Tuesday, Apple disabled all of Facebook’s internal apps after finding the social media platform was abusing the Enterprise Certificate program for a “research” app that pays teens for their iPhone data.

Apple didn’t just pull Facebook’s research app. It punished Facebook by shutting down all of its internal iOS apps. Apple has not responded to Google, which late today apologized and disabled the app.

Google research app disabled with an apology

Google’s Screenwise Meter was brought to light today by the news site TechCrunch, which initially broke the story about Facebook’s research app.

“The Screenwise Meter iOS app should not have operated under Apple’s developer enterprise program — this was a mistake, and we apologize,” Googe said in a written statement sent to Cult of Mac “We have disabled this app on iOS devices. This app is completely voluntary and always has been.

“We’ve been upfront with users about the way we use their data in this app, we have no access to encrypted data in apps and on devices, and users can opt out of the program at any time.”

The Google app launched in 2012 and let users earn gift cards if they sideload a VPN app that collects information on internet and television usage. Teens as young as 13 could take part if part of a family, Tech Crunch reported.

Screenwise Meter was part of the Google Opinion Rewards program. From a promotional video uploaded to YouTube in August, Google tells people it will use the data to “improve the experience with Google products.” Google sends participants a route and allows them to shut off data collecting when users want to keep their usage private.

Still, the app appeared to violate Facebook’s policy. Companies can run an iOS app without Apple oversite in its Enterprise Certificate program if the apps for internal use only.

Source: TechCrunch

[Update: This post has been updated with comment from Google]