Apple to improve iOS 9 user privacy, but advertisers won’t be happy

apple tv ios 9 september wwdc 2015 pressshot presentation
With the rollout of iOS 9 later this year, developers of third-party apps will no longer be able to see which other apps are on a user’s iDevice. While the move will help Apple with its apparent ongoing quest to improve user privacy, it will at the same time upset marketers who currently use the information to target in-app ads according to which apps the user already has on their iPhone or iPad.

So say, for example, a user has a bunch of word games on their Apple device, then it’s more likely they’ll be served with an ad for a similar type of game rather than one significantly different.

The news of Apple’s expected policy change comes from The Information, which said Wednesday it’d learned the Cupertino company was “quietly moving to prevent app developers from accessing….app-download data.”

Apple is reportedly saying that just as you might consider your Web-browsing history as private, so too is your collection of apps, as both can potentially reveal much about your interests and tastes. Facebook and Twitter are two such third-party apps known to draw on a user’s app data to help it better target ads.

According to The Information, advertisers are able to obtain the app data via a communication API in iOS known as “canopenURL.” iOS 9, when it rolls out in the fall, will end the ability for advertisers to grab this data.

Apple and Google

Keen to highlight differences with Google, creator of the rival Android mobile OS, Apple has been saying increasingly often that it’s not interested in a user’s personal information.

Discussing privacy and data collection in a TV interview last year, for example, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company’s business is “based on selling [hardware]” and “not based on having information about you. You’re not our product….we run a very different company.”

While Google is well known to analyze user information in order to help it serve up targeted ads, Apple appears keen to move the other way.

More recently, commenting on “prominent and successful companies” that most people took to mean the likes of Google and Facebook, Cook told an audience at an event in Washington, DC, “They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”

Apple does, however, collect some personal and “non-personal” information about its users, details of which are laid out in its Privacy Policy.

For its part, Google recently launched a privacy and security dashboard allowing users to limit what information the Web giant tracks.

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